Sustainability is at the heart of Brooklyn Grange’s mission, and we are constantly innovating ways to create future cities that are greener, cleaner, and more delicious. We are a triple bottom line business, which means that when making decisions, we consider not only our financial profit, but also, the natural capital we gain or lose. We question what impact each outcome will have on the planet, and the people on it. We think of our business as part of an ecosystem, and we aim to benefit all other members of that ecosystem, from the ladybug laying larva on our lettuce, to our fellow human beings across the globe.
Our sustainability practices begin with our farms, and our farms begin with simple but brilliant green roof technology. Green Roofs have several critical environmental benefits that present-day cities sorely need. First off, they reduce CSO, or Combined Sewage Overflow. Our two green roofs are estimated to manage a combined 2 million gallons of stormwater per year. Secondly, green roofs reduce urban heat island effect, the phenomenon wherein the non-porous surfaces of cities, particularly black tar rooftops, absorb sunlight during the day, then emit it at night, so that the city never cools down. We reduce the heating and cooling needs of the upper floors of the building beneath us, and create critical habitat for migratory and native pollinators, like birds, insects, and bats. As compared to “extensive” or passive green roofs planted with sedum, our soil-based rooftop farms, with their deep soil and biodiversity, magnify these benefits. Finally, our green roof farms extend the lifespan of the roof membrane, the replacement of which is a costly process both financially and ecologically.
But the installation of our green roofs is just the beginning. Once we have created an ecosystem on a roof, we have to maintain it and help it flourish. That means farming without chemicals, and with as much respect to conserving resources as possible. We adhere to organic farming practices, but we also think critically about what ecosystem services we can provide above and beyond organic standards to create a net-positive affect on the environment. Read about some of the specific farming practices we employ here.
Beyond the farm, we are always thinking creatively about ways to reclaim the paved-over spaces of cities and return them to nature. Because not every building is structurally sound enough for the soil depth required of a rooftop farm and not every backyard gets enough light to grow vegetables, our Design/Build team takes a customized approach to looking at urban landscapes. We grow whatever we can, wherever we may, whether that’s food for humans, or native wildflowers that provide forage–food!–for our pollinator allies. To learn more about our ecological landscaping practices, head over to our Design/Build sustainability page.
Finally, we believe that sustainability isn’t just about the individual choices made by one person or organization, but rather a tidal shift that must sweep through our culture. In order to affect that level of change, we must educate one another and share resources. At Brooklyn Grange, we welcome tens of thousands of visitors each season to learn about our work. The majority of our visitors come to the farm for an event, whether for Monday night yoga or to celebrate a wedding. We view every visitor as an opportunity to exchange knowledge that will help us build the sustainable cities of the future. Reducing the waste endemic to the events industry is, we feel, a great place to start, so we strongly urge our guests not to serve beverages out of plastic cups, or use food shipped in from thousands of miles away. To read the helpful guidelines our Events department has put together for minimizing the ecological impact of our programming, head over here.
At Brooklyn Grange, we believe that social enterprise has the capacity to create real, powerful change, and that urban agriculture has the capacity to monetize the creation and maintenance of the green spaces that cities need so badly. But we can’t do so alone! Please join us in the movement towards a cleaner, greener future by implementing the sustainability practices that make the most sense for you. Need help? We offer sustainability consulting services to aid in creating customized sustainability platforms for your business or organization! Please reach out to us to learn more.