While Two Trees still needs to make it through the ULURP process before breaking ground on its SHoP Architects-designed mixed-use development for the Domino Sugar site on the Brooklyn Waterfront, the developer has just announced plans for Site E, a vacant parcel on the corner of Kent Avenue and South 3rd. A large section of the 55,000-square-foot lot will be dedicated to a community green space run by North Brooklyn Farms that will host a range of Brooklyn-friendly activities and classes from yoga to urban farming. And on the western side, there will be a bike course, organized by New York City Mountain Bike Association, with areas for riders of all levels. This new urban farm-meets-bike recreation spot will open to the public in May and close once construction commences on the development.
Urban rooftop farming is on the up-and-up in New York City and across the country. Putting his official stamp of approval on the movement, New York Mayor Bloomberg stopped by the city’s largest rooftop farm, the 43,000-square-foot Brooklyn Grange atop a building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. With the growing season in full swing, the plants were towering nearly as high as the Manhattan skyline in the distance.
New York City is home to over 700 food-producing farms and gardens spread over 50 acres of reclaimed lots, rooftops, schoolyards, and public housing grounds. This week at a launch and press event, the Design Trust for Public Space (in partnership with the Brooklyn-based non-profit community farming project Added Value) debuted the most comprehensive survey yet of the city’s urban agricultural infrastructure, Five Borough Farm: Seeding the Future of Urban Agriculture in New York City.
Despite the Motor City’s notoriety as a symbol of urban decay, development is actually going on in Detroit. And with almost 40 square miles of vacant land, Detroit has the chance to redefine urban renewal outright. The city recently took note of one major way some residents are turning blight into bounty: Mayor David Bing signed off on Michigan State University’s plan to seed urban agriculture in Detroit with $1.5 million over the next three years.
Installation of the first community rooftop garden in the United States—UpGarden—is almost complete. Located in the shadow of Seattle’s Space Needle, the project will convert close to 30,000 square feet on the top of the Mercer parking garage into an organic, edible, herb and flower garden with 100 plots for lower Queen Anne neighborhood residents. Landscape architecture firm Kistler Higbee Cahoot is leading the design, organizing community workshops and construction of the garden with a volunteer crew.
Forget school-top farms for privileged Manhattan children. You want something truly radical? How about taking over abandoned lots in Detroit so poor single mothers can make a living growing organic produce. That is in part the focus of Grown in Detroit, a new documentary about how the Motor City, on both the large and small scale, is trying to become the manure city. The film is currently screening at a few locations in town as part of the Detroit Windsor International Film Festival. For those of us not in the shrinking city, though, there’s an ingenious option to stream the doc on its website, albeit on a pay-what-you-will basis, which is almost as clever as the idea to turn Detroit into one giant, happy farm.