NEW YORK (CBS Newspath) — When you think of New York City, do you picture a farm?
There’s a new green acre in Manhattan where crops are now growing next to skyscrapers. The farmland is on the roof of the Javits Convention Center, eight stories above ground in the shadow of the Empire State Building.
The organization Brooklyn Grange helped plan the farm. “Being here in Manhattan, this is the first farm that we’ve ever designed and operated in Manhattan. It’s huge. It’s really exciting for me,” says co-founder Anastasia Plakias.
The farm is part of a billion dollar expansion of the Javits Center. Javits CEO Alan Steel says it is the kind of green amenity that can attract events. “The kids who want to come to an event like Comic-Con, this is fascinating for them. This is something they expect,“ he says.
The soil is 18 inches deep, and rainwater is collected and recycled. Four full-time farmers are growing radishes, lettuce, squash. Roughly 40-thousand pounds of produce every year will go from the convention center’s roof to its kitchen. “Straight from the dirt to the plate. It’s a dream,” says Chef Marc Tourtollet.
The team hopes rooftops like this will grow and thrive around the country. “We are increasingly alienated from our food systems. Rooftop farming is a way that we can really connect people directly with the food that they’re eating,” says Plakias.
“It’s the thing that makes people say this is New York. Anything can happen here,” says Steel. And if these crops can make it here, well, you know how the Frank Sinatra song goes, maybe they can “make it anywhere.”