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#13 Roof Top Gardening

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Benefits of Roof Top Farming

Roof top farming is the cultivation of produce and other crops on the roof of a building.  Farming on roofs enables the use of otherwise underutilized space for food production, and roof top farms reduce urban heat by absorbing solar radiation and reduce pressure of stormwater on sewer systems by absorbing rainfall runoff.

In New York City, urban farmers practicing roof top farming might be eligible for the NYC Green Roof Property Tax Abatement Program, which offers a one-year tax abatement of $4.50 per square foot of green roof, with a maximum abatement of $10,000 or building tax liability, whichever is less.  For design and filing requirements, download, or email questions to .

Services and Training

Brooklyn Grange, a commercial roof top farm with acreage in Brooklyn and Queens, offers consulting, design and installation services for people interested in roof top farming.  Visit for more information, or contact .

Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Brooklyn is a 6,000 square foot green roof organic farm that offers free public programming and workshops.  For more information, visit or contact .

Farming Up is an organization planning a large-scale roof top farm in New York City, and has conducted research on growing media for roof top farms and how it affects plant nutrient density.  Research results are freely available on the organization’s website at

Other organizations host occasional rooftop farming classes or workshops.  See Appendix A for organization information, and check event calendars and postings for more information.

Roof Top Farming Publications

There are several factors to consider when designing, installing and maintaining a roof top farm, from engineering requirements to buildings codes.

Before embarking on a roof top project, consult guides such as:

  • “Guide to Setting Up Your Own Edible Rooftop Garden,” published by Alternatives and the Rooftop Garden Project in Montreal, Canada, 2008 (available for free download at, and
  • “DDC Cool & Green Roofing Manual,” prepared for the NYC Department of Design & Construction Office of Sustainability Design by Gruzen Samton Archives LLP, 2005-2007 (available for free download at
  • “Green Roofs and Rooftop Gardens,” published by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden as part of the Handbook series, available for purchase at
  • Eagle Street Rooftop Farm’s Annie Novak’s “The Rooftop Growing Guide” offers advice from a seasoned rooftop grower:

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