It's more than a little ironic than us city-slicking New Yorkers, via the abundance of greenmarket farmers markets that have taken root all over town in the past decade or so–from the massive, wonderful Union Square farmers market to the seasonal spaces such as the Saturday-only greenmarket on 82nd and York–actually have easier access to fresh, locally produced food than the most people in this country.
But if you're looking to join an increasing number of NYC urban farmers and rooftop gardeners who are getting their hands dirty, so to speak, by growing their own fruits and vegetables (and plants and flowers), your options have never been more plentiful. There's a ton of information out there about getting started in NYC urban farming, from low-maintenance, sub-irrigated planter systems to community gardens to large-scale rooftop garden farm collectives. Here are just a few sites and articles we've seen in the past year or so on the urban farms and rooftop gardens in NYC that educate, delight and inspire…
New York Magazine just recently ran short profiles on half a dozen of the city's most successful urban farmers, including Annie Novak, who helps run the organic, 6,000-square-foot Eagle Street Rooftop Garden Farm in Greenpoint, started in 2008, and now providing vegetables to some of our favorite Brooklyn restaurants, including Marlow and Sons. Now, we're not saying that everyone needs to launch such a massive undertaking to get their green thumb on, but go to just one the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm Open Sunday volunteer and education sessions and you'll leave knowing more about basic farming techniques than, say, your average Iowan.
The New York Times has run many articles in past few years about the challenges and rewards of urban farming, including this piece on, among other things, the decision of PS6, the beloved Upper East Side elementary school, to transform a third of their rooftop into a children-maintained vegetable and herb garden. Interesting stuff… and be sure to read the community comments, which contain lots of helpful links and rooftop gardening in Manhattan tips and tricks.
We'll also point you towards Inside Urban Green which, in one form or another, has posted an astonishing variety and volume of solidly-researched, field-tested, easy-to-understand information on all aspects of the urban agricultural game, including rooftop gardens in NYC, and garden spaces both indoor and out. Finally, for a reasonably exhaustive listing of opportunities to join one of the dozens of New York City community gardens, the Parks Department's Green Thumb site is an excellent place to start.