An urban farm built on rooftop in Queens

July 13, 2011 1:55:26 PM PDT
Ben Flanner is a farmer, which is why he's so focused on the ground.

"I don't really care about the view too much - I'm usually looking down," Flanner said.

However, most people are captivated by the view because this 6,000-square-foot farm is built on a rooftop in Queens. It's called Brooklyn Grange, a farm that is six-stories above the city and has sweeping views of the New York skyline. It is believed to be the largest such farm in the world.

Flanner is an urban farmer - part of a "growing" trend of growers across the country.

"It started with a desire to farm, and also a reluctance to leave the city," said Flanner.

Not only does Flanner grow Swiss chard and chervil, but he also has chickens.

"It's the highest flock in New York City," he added.

"In the first year of operation, which was a shortened year, they were able to cover all of their operational expenses for gross revenues, which even in normal farm set up is somewhat surprising. It is definitely a unique market," said Chase Emmons, who is in charge of business development for the farm.

One customer is New York City chef Patrick Connelly. He has a unique relationship with Flanner.

"Most chefs these days have these types of relationships with their farmers, this is the only instance where I live in the same neighborhood as my farmer. He'll come to the restaurant and have a drink, and we'll always text back and forth, so it's awesome to have that kind of closeness," said Connelly.

In two seasons, Brooklyn Grange has produced dozens of varieties of crops for market. Hoping to add more each year, they keep their focus away from the view and keep it on the ground.

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