Raising the Roof

Bringing urban farming into a new age

There are rooftop gardens–and then there are Brightfarm rooftop greenhouses.

And for those who aren't experts in the rooftop-farming market, the latter promises to be the tricked-out Maybachs of sustainable urban agriculture.

Though more and more city roofs are being planted with crops, the focus is often on the "local" aspect of the production, and sustainability can get lost in the shuffle.

That's where Brightfarm Systems, a greenhouse design consultancy, is different. Born of the nonprofit organization responsible for the New York Science Barge, Brightfarm aims to create greenhouses that are emission-free. Its models are powered by solar energy and waste collected from the resident buildings; rainwater-catchment systems provide water.

This month, the firm breaks ground on its first project, an interactive learning center on top of the P.S. 333 on the Upper West Side. The food-production center–which boasts solar panels, hydroponics, aquaculture and a learning kitchen–will double as a science classroom.

On May 10, you can help raise the last of the necessary funds to build the P.S. 333 greenhouse by attending a chef-driven event featuring dishes from the likes of George Weld (Egg), John Fraser (Dovetail), Michael Anthony (Gramercy Tavern), Andrew Carmellini (Locanda Verde) and Bill Telepan (Telepan).

Up next: a rooftop greenhouse in a Bronx housing development.