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Video Pick: Rooftop Farming In Brooklyn

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Video Pick: Rooftop Farming In Brooklyn


Video Pick: Rooftop Farming In Brooklyn

Video Pick: Rooftop Farming In Brooklyn

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

On top of a warehouse in Brooklyn vegetables are sprouting. Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is a 6,000 square foot plot that sells produce to New Yorkers and local restaurants. The soil also helps regulate the temperature of the building below. Science Friday stopped by for a tour.

JOE PALCA, host: And now, Flora Lichtman joins us for Video Pick of the Week. It feels like there should be some music for that. Does that mean, you know, something...


PALCA: Yeah, you need a theme song, Flora.

FLORA LICHTMAN: Something like that.

PALCA: OK. So what's the pick this week?

LICHTMAN: The pick this week is a profile of a little New York farm. There's chickens and kale and chard and you're probably thinking, ho-hum, I've seen a farm before.

PALCA: Yes, I've seen a farm before.

LICHTMAN: But you may not have seen a farm like this. The backdrop is not rolling hills or anything pristine. It's New York City, so this farm is located on top of a warehouse in Brooklyn.

PALCA: I don't understand. I've seen the tops of warehouses. Things do not grow on the tops of warehouses. They have concrete or asphalt or something like that - whatever.

LICHTMAN: Or whatever, something yucky.

PALCA: Right.

LICHTMAN: So it turns out, if you put down a protective roof barrier and some soil, you can grow vegetables on top of a roof. And it's called a green roof. And actually, I should say that Aleszu Bajak who's our producer at SCIENCE FRIDAY, he's behind this video this week. And he investigated this from the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Brooklyn and he found that all about green roofs. Now, this is a pretty intensive green roof.

PALCA: Well, OK, so what's, I mean, I understand it's green because things are growing on it. But what's - apart from having a space to have - grow some vegetables in the city, is there another advantage to doing something like this?

LICHTMAN: There do seem to be other advantages. It keeps - it insulates the building, we heard on this shoot. So it keeps it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. And roofs get really hot in the summer, apparently. And the temperature stays pretty cool up there. So that's another advantage. And it turns out that for four inches of soil, it will absorb one inch of rainwater. So that's good for the sewer systems as well. So this is sort of - it seems like a prototype of what you might do with a roof, but kind of unusual.

PALCA: I get the feeling. I mean, it's an interesting direction. But is it really - it's not going to save the planet, I don't think.

LICHTMAN: Well, I think that Annie Novak might disagree with you there, Joe.

PALCA: Really? OK. I mean, so she's going to - she hopes to do a lot of these and see them spread far and wide.

LICHTMAN: I think she hopes that more will sprout up.



PALCA: All right. That's a good place to end. I think anybody who hasn't left us already should at least know that this is the end of the hour.

LICHTMAN: Well, this is the end of the hour, yes.

PALCA: All right. OK. Thanks, Flora.

LICHTMAN: Thanks, Joe.

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