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Super fresh: The Brooklyn Grange redefines local produce

Ben Flanner is an urban Wendell Berry

Almost every NYC neighborhood has a farmer’s market, and if the vegetables come from within 150 miles, they’re considered local. But at the Brooklyn Grange, a month-old market in Long Island City, the produce is grown just six flights up, on a 40,000-square-foot roof, bringing new meaning to local produce.

Six days a week, Ben Flanner, Rob Lateiner, and a steady stream of volunteers work on the roof in the blazing sun high above Northern Boulevard, the Manhattan skyline rising in a humid haze behind them. Since late May, they’ve planted six types of kale, 40 varieties of tomatoes, swiss chard, lettuce, radishes, beets, beans, fennel, okra, arugula and much more, all without pesticides.

Flanner, the head farmer, and a small group of co-founders started the Brooklyn Grange to bring New Yorkers closer to their food and to improve health in local communities. “The produce is extra fresh because it can be harvested really quickly, and the green roof also has environmental benefits for the neighborhood,” says Flanner, who previously opened Eagle Street Rooftop Farms.

A farm grows in Queens

The team had originally planned on setting up shop on a Brooklyn roof, but then had to relocate to Queens because the rent was too high. Since they had already incorporated, they stuck with their borough-confused name.

The Grange is currently supplying produce to Eat in Greenpoint and Vesta Trattoria & Wine Bar in Astoria. They also sell their goods at a Sunday market at Roberta’s, a popular Brooklyn pizzeria and bakery with a large backyard garden. Or you can rummage for roughage at Brooklyn Grange’s own market on Tuesday and Thursday.

Starting next week, they’ll also offer CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares. If you’d like to  join the CSA or volunteer at the farm, email them at [email protected].

The Brooklyn Grange (ground floor market and sixth floor farm): 37-18 Northern Boulevard, Long Island City; 917-204-5644,