New urban farm opens at Essex Crossing

BY GABE HERMAN | Talk about a green roof!

Well, actually, it’s a little bit orange and red, too.

Carrots, beets, baby kale and more are now being farmed on a rooftop deck on the Lower East Side at the new Essex Crossing development.

The Essex Crossing Farm, which opened July 31, is one quarter-acre, located on the sixth-floor deck of The Essex, at 125 Essex St., one of the nine sites of the development, which has been opening in stages.

Produce from the farm will go to a stand at the Market Line, a 150,000-square-foot marketplace that will open later this summer and resemble a bazaar, offering a wide range of foods and other goods.

The new Essex Crossing Farm, above, is a one-quarter-acre space in the new Lower East Side development. (Courtesy Delancey Street Associates)

The new elevated farm is being run by the local nonprofit Project EATS, which operates 10 other urban farms across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. This one at Essex Crossing is the largest organic farm on Manhattan Island, and second largest in the borough after the Randall’s Island Farm.

Linda Bryant, founder and president of the nonprofit, said the Downtown urban farm is a great opportunity.

“Project EATS is extremely grateful for the opportunity Delancey Street Associates is giving us to work with and support this richly diverse, resourceful and resilient community on the Lower East Side,” she said.

The items being grown, to be sold at the Farmacy stand in the Market Line, include root vegetables, like turnips, carrots, beets and radishes, along with baby greens, like arugula, mustards and baby kale.

For now, until the Market Line stand opens, the Farmacy is selling produce in the new Essex Crossing Park, at Clinton and Broome Sts., on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Project EATS will also run several programs at the Essex farm, including classes and after-school programs for public school students about the role of healthy foods and nutrition.

In addition, senior residents at Essex Crossing and in L.E.S. more broadly, will get free breakfast on Saturdays this year. The program will expand to families with children next year.

Also, students at Seward Park High School campus will have the chance to get jobs through the Essex farm in agricultural and community health training. Plus, there will be a public art project at the farm, called “Up On the Roof.”

One of the Essex Crossing developers, L + M Development Partners, has previously worked with Project EATS at a farm in Brownsville, Brooklyn, which yields more than 10,000 pounds of produce every season.

“As we know well from our work in Brownsville with Project EATS,” said Debbie Kenyon, L + M vice chairperson and senior partner, “we couldn’t possibly find an operator more dedicated not simply to creating a great farm, but to engaging with the community on many levels — from education, to senior programming, to workforce development, to health and wellness. We’re looking forward to welcoming the L.E.S. community to the farm and providing fresh produce for the neighborhood in the Market Line.”

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