Up on the Roof — It’s Not a Bird, Not a Plane, It’s a Farm Lab!

Urban Farming 01 lo res
(L to R) CEO and co-founder of Edenworks, Jason Green and Nick Strelov, Aquaponics Manager

On top of Kendi Ironworks is the start of something really green for the urban farm movement.  You notice the Greenhouse even though it blends in with the rustic wood and other construction elements on this roof deck.  Jason Green, CEO and co-founder of Edenworks, points out that everything except the greenhouse is made from recycled materials.

The greenhouse houses a farm lab that is 800 square feet in size. It is contains a vertical farm system and an R & D lab.  This farm is built as a modular system so it can be adapted to the expanded farm in Long Island City that will be eight times this size.

Vocabulary word: Aquaponic.

This is an Aquaponic farm that means this farm’s water supply comes from the fish tanks. They are raising white tilapia, blue tilapia, and fresh water prawns.  The plants are fertilized by the fish water and in turn the plants filter out the water so it can provide a healthy environment to the fish.  The fish are fed all natural or organic fish food.  “Fish will always tell you in hours or a day if something is wrong,” Jason said. He went on to report they haven’t had a dead fish in months.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.  Edenworks work with aquaponics has yielded much tastier produce. I took a nibble of their sorrel and Wow! It packed a punch of flavor.

No chemicals are used.  To keep pests away they research different methods. Diatomaceous earth was sprinkled on the tomato plants there for instance.  The environment is constantly monitored by sensors and the information is uploaded to their cloud based database.  This data is updated every 5 minutes, usually.

They also test out different growing mediums.  Currently in the greenhouse were tomatillos growing in growstone which is made out of recycled glass and limestone.  Other mediums they used were coco coir (ground up coconut shells) and rockwool “Pulverized rock spun into cotton candy.” Was the description given by Jason Green.

This research farm was started in December 2013 and took 6 months to build.  So it has been running for almost a year.  The Long Island City farm will be a commercial venture for them and their business model is to sell produce, mushrooms, and seafood by subscription. Edenworks intends to “Be your neighborhood farmer.”


Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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