The co-founder of “the world’s first commercial rooftop farm” chronicles how she and a small group of socially conscious and creatively resourceful individuals built their successful business.
In this lively and graciously written account, Plakias, a founding partner and vice president of Brooklyn Grange, relates the numerous painstaking efforts (and pitfalls) made at each step in the development of this unique business currently operating across 2 1/2 acres on two buildings in Brooklyn and Queens. The author begins with how the concept and principles were established through the shared commitment of a core group of diversely talented yet like-minded staffers back in 2008. She then tracks the arduous process of scouting for ideal locations and the grueling experiences building and maintaining each farm. Throughout, the stories are colorful yet instructive. Intending for Brooklyn Grange to be a community-minded business that could be both agriculturally and fiscally sustainable, Plakias is careful to stress how continuing research and a shrewd use of data, as well as their agility in diversifying channels of business, were crucial to their eventual success: “It was a combination of community-minded enterprise and straight-up necessity that brought us to where we are today, with distinct but interwoven divisions of our business,” she writes. “The community gives us clear direction about what they would like to see us doing, and by listening to them—by reading every email that comes in, by talking to our customers and the chefs to whom we sell—we understand the markets available to us.”
An engaging, well-documented business book that should become a valuable resource for urban farmers everywhere. In a category glutted with titles on digital startup operations, the thoughtfully detailed planning and advice laid out here will be inspiring to a wide range of small brick-and-mortar business entrepreneurs.