Rooftop farming in New York City

City Growers, a nonprofit organization located in New York, provides inner-city residents with meaningful opportunities to interact with the natural world. The nonprofit has its origins with Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farms. In 2010, Brooklyn Grange built the first of several farms on a Queens rooftop, seven stories above Northern Boulevard. In addition to growing and selling fresh produce to the local residents and businesses, the farm founded a separately funded nonprofit — City Growers — with the purpose of using the farm to educate local children and teens about where fruits and vegetables come from and how they’re grown.

XL Catlin’s Global Day of Giving team learned about the organization from Hannah Orowitz, one of XL Catlin’s lawyers, who sits on City Grower's Board. Jill Bell, the Project Leader says, “It’s difficult to find organizations that can accommodate 25 to 30 people, with a project we can all do together. I was lucky to find City Growers, who had both the space and projects to accommodate us all.”

Most of the work the volunteer team did for City Growers was physical. The team helped turn over several of the farm’s large compost piles and painted brick markers for visitors to easily be able to identify what was growing. Volunteers mainly came from the New York office, but once word got out that the project was at a farm on a rooftop, something most employees didn’t know even existed, more people from other offices signed up.

Jill adds: “I really enjoy finding projects that introduce people to new experiences and locations and make everyone feel that our being there made a real difference.”

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