Urban farm grows within Staten Island apartment complex

Lauren Glassberg Image
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Rooftop of Staten Island apartment complex turned into urban farm
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Lauren Glassberg has the latest details.

STAPLETON, Staten Island (WABC) -- Many buildings in New York City have supers and handymen, but not many have farmers in residence. But one apartment complex in the Stapleton section of Staten Island decided to make their space a little greener.

Within the brand new URBY apartment complex grows a commercial urban farm that runs for about a tenth of an acre. There's about 900 apartments, shops, restaurants, and now, abundant crops.

Zaro Bates, a resident of the apartment, also farms the land. Her position was created by the developer to ensure that the urban farm flourishes.

"There's no reason why developers wouldn't want to create farms in their complexes," she said. "From what we're seeing so far, it's a huge attraction."

The fresh food is a way of life for the community.

"People will meet and eat together, so it's a point of connection," she said.

The food is grown and then sold at a farmers market on site. It's also sold to restaurants at the development and around Staten Island.

"We have lots of customers coming from the building," Bates said. "We also have customers from the North Shore and other parts of Staten Island."

There is also a communal kitchen and chef who teaches cooking classes, and atop one of the buildings an apiary. Bate's husband, Asher Landes, is the beekeeper.

"It's tranquil, a little quiet, and we get to see the ships roll in and out," he said. "The bees love it up here, so it's been great."

The honey will also be sold on site, sweetening the residential experience.

"There's something about living in cities that people are really hungry for green space and really hungry for fresh food," Bates said. "To have that right here is special."