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Wildflower Meadow and Vegetable Farm Coming to Brooklyn Rooftops

By Leslie Albrecht | February 12, 2015 6:19pm | Updated on February 13, 2015 5:30pm
 The city's Department of Enviromental Protection is funding several green roof projects.
Wildflower Meadow and Vegetable Farm Coming to Brooklyn Rooftops
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GOWANUS — Bees, butterflies and vegetable gardens will soon be flourishing on rooftops across Brooklyn and beyond, thanks to a $3 million city grant program for green roof projects, officials announced Thursday.

The city's Department of Environmental Protection awarded money to build green roofs on several buildings, including sites in Gowanus, Downtown Brooklyn and Sunset Park. The projects will bring vegetation to building roofs, as well as absorbent material that will suck up rain, which will help lessen pollution in waterways such as the Gowanus Canal.

The Gowanus Arts Building at 295 Douglass St. received funding for a 6,000-square-foot rooftop garden where produce will be grown. The green roof is part of a major makeover now underway at the Gowanus Arts Building, an 1880s soap factory that artists took over 30 years ago.

“We’re hoping to make the building as sustainable as possible on every level, and to make it a model of a true community center,” said building co-owner Elise Long. "Adding the green component, actual plants, particularly in industrial areas, is critical."

Long said she's hoping to build bee hives and chicken coops in the rooftop garden, which will be dubbed the "Gowanus Sky Farm." Long's Spoke the Hub dance group, one of several arts groups that use the building, plans to teach a children's nutrition and cooking program in the rooftop garden.

The Gowanus Arts Building green roof will also have a "blue roof" area, which will absorb up to 9,300 gallons of water during heavy downpours, according to the DEP.

Other DEP-funded green roof projects announced Thursday include:

► A 61,050-square-foot wildflower meadow will be installed atop the Salmar Building, a commercial and industrial building between Second and Third avenues and 30th and 31st streets in Sunset Park. The meadow will be home to the blue lupine flower, a plant that’s known to attract the endangered Karner Blue butterfly, according to DEP.

► A new construction project at 20 Lafayette Ave. in Downtown Brooklyn, which will house BAM South, will have a green roof on its third floor. It won't be accessible to the public, so "the project will be cultivated as a habitat node for pollinators" like bees and butterflies, DEP said.

► The roof of Madani Halal, a meat processing facility in Ozone Park, Queens, will get a vegetable garden.

“By soaking up rain water these projects will help to reduce pollution in our local waterways, including the East River, Gowanus Canal and Jamaica Bay,” said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd in a statement. 

“From Ozone Park to Melrose to Sunset Park, we are thrilled to contribute funding to these projects that will provide many additional benefits for local residents, including a greener landscape and cleaner air.”

Property owners are invited to apply for grant funding for similar green roof projects later this year. Find out more on the DEP's website.