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There's now a farm and orchard on top of the Javits Center

The plan is to grow up to 40,000 pounds of produce each year.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

Way atop New York City's massive convention center is a one-acre farm and a 10,000 square foot orchard that grows fruit.

You wouldn't know it to look at the Javits Center, but it's now home to a green roof farm that will grow up to 40,000 lbs of produce per year.

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Brooklyn Grange, the New York City-based rooftop farming, design/build, and events business, is working The Farm at the Javits Center, which has a one-acre green roof farm, an all-season greenhouse, a 10,000 square foot orchard and food forest with dozens of fruit-bearing trees, and a 344,000-gallon underground cistern for recovering and recycling rainwater runoff.

The farm has 18 inches of agricultural soil, 32 apple and six pear trees growing in almost four feet of soil, and a landscape of native and pollinator-friendly plants. The hope is to grow up to 40,000 pounds of produce each year, which will be served onsite by the Javits Center’s caterer, CULTIVATED.

You might've heard that the Javits Center had a garden on its roof before—it already hosted a 6.75-acre passive green roof, but the Brooklyn Grange has turned that into an active farm for "roof-to-table" meals for its visitors and staff.

"We’re taking sustainability to the next level—literally," said Alan Steel, the president and CEO of the New York Convention Center Operating Corporation. "We’re excited to work with Brooklyn Grange to create a unique roof-to-table experience for our guests in the new heart of New York City. This innovative farm will enable our staff to push the boundaries of sustainability and further explore how to improve the quality of life for our neighbors—those with wings and those without." 

Brooklyn Grange at Javits Center
Photograph: courtesy the Javits Center

It's much more than just a farm—the green roof and 344,000-gallon underground rainwater cistern will prevent millions of gallons of stormwater from entering New York City’s sewer system each year, according to Javits Center officials. This rainwater will instead be used to irrigate crops and trees, which will limit the farm's municipal water use by about 50%. With a deeper soil depth, the farm will also reduce surface and air temperatures above and below the roof, helping to combat the urban heat island effect in a rapidly warming city. It'll also encourage biodiversity and habitat for native and migratory pollinators.

A valuable addition to the 5.6 acres of rooftop space already being farmed by Brooklyn Grange, the impact of The Farm at the Javits Center will be massive, challenging millions of visitors per year to think differently about food, farming, and even cities.

”It is widely recognized that the cities of today were not designed to adequately meet the challenges of tomorrow’s climate," Gwen Schantz, the co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Brooklyn Grange, said. "We design all our green spaces to draw in and engage the community with positive conversations about sustainability, and we aim to inspire every visitor to The Farm at the Javits Center to think what cities of the future might look like."

Starting next year, the Farm at Javits Center will host public programming and events, where you'll be able to see the farm yourself. The center also has a 15,000 square-foot, glass-enclosed space that can host events with up to 1,500 individuals throughout the year, as well as a massive outdoor terrace, giving guests the chance to enjoy native wildflowers maintained by Brooklyn Grange’s landscape maintenance team—allowing the public to see it whenever they attend an event here.

Brooklyn Grange at Javits Center
Photograph: courtesy the Javits Center

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