By Kimberly Sevilla
Owner of Rose Red & Lavender, and life-long gardener
I remember my first “rooftop garden,” in a walk-up on Avenue D in Manhattan. I attempted to grow some tomatoes in five gallon buckets, nothing fancy, and certainly not pretty. I quickly discovered that on hot summer days tomatoes drink a lot of water, and over a long weekend vacation, get destroyed. Hauling water up three flights of stairs and hanging out on a hot rooftop was no fun. My first year as a rooftop gardener was a big disaster, and I learned that no amount of love can revive a crispy tomato plant. I retreated, to my terrestrial garden, where the elements were a little more forgiving, and put my rooftop endeavor on hold for a few years.
If you look across the rooftops of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick you can see a lot going on up in the sky. Rooftop gardens are sprouting up all over. Take a trip across the Queensboro Bridge and you will see lots of green on the roofs of Long Island City, too. Been to Roberta’s? The Bushwick-based eatery has some wonderful gardens on their roof, specifically a building they’ve created out of shipping containers (It houses Heritage Radio, their online radio station-—heritageradionetwork.com—dedicated to the practical arts: gardening, making beer, and anything that has to do with making your own stuff.)
Who builds these gardens and why? What do they grow and what challenges do they face?
In the early spring of 2009, a few months after I had opened Rose Red & Lavender, an Organic Gardening Center and Floral Studio in Brooklyn. I was riding the subway from Manhattan and noticed a thin, cleancut young man mapping out a complicated vegetable gardening scheme. A very, very large vegetable garden scheme. This is a pretty rare site, More > >