151. Liz Dowd on Rooftop Farming for Community Connection

What kind of farming opportunities exist in The Big Apple?


Joining me today is Liz Dowd, Director of Farming Operations at Brooklyn Grange, located in NYC. Founded in 2010, Brooklyn Grange is the leading rooftop farming and intensive green roofing business in the US. Brooklyn Grange operates the world’s largest rooftop soil farms, located on three roofs in New York City. They work to make the city more sustainable by designing, building and maintaining urban green spaces for private residences, organizations, and businesses. They also host about 7,000 people on our farms every season through events and educational programming. Liz grew up in Vermont, passionately enjoying work with her homesteader parents. She studied biodynamics at the Pfieffer Center and urban permaculture at NY Open Center. Liz continues to be passionate about working with–and for–the community, creating an engaging space where neighbors can find nourishment, relaxation, and a connection to food, farming, and nature. Join us on the rooftops of NYC today!

In This Episode:

The background of Brooklyn Grange 1:38

The range of crops that they grow 8:52

How Brooklyn Grange moves their products 9:57

How they manage the bed systems 14:57

How they’ve refined their hiring process 18:14

How they manage their finances 23:20

The systems Brooklyn Grange has in place to keep things moving efficiently 28:03

What Liz sees for the future of Brooklyn Grange 29:12

What Liz would change about her farming journey given the opportunity to start again 34:46

What Liz thinks is the biggest mistake newer farmers tend to make 36:45

Liz’s heroes/mentors throughout her farming journey 43:08

About the hardest thing Liz has ever had to do as a farmer 47:16

About the Guest:

Liz Dowd was born in Vermont and grew up working alongside their parents; stacking wood, sifting compost, and tending their vegetable and cut flower gardens. Upon moving to New York City to study photography, they found that they loved the culture but missed the dirt, and their yearning for soil and seeds led them to the Pfieffer Center, where they studied biodynamics, and NY Open Center, where they dove into urban permaculture. After completing their Adult Urban Farm Training Program, Liz was offered a co-manager position at The Youth Farm, where they found themself energized and inspired by teaching and learning from their cohort, and the challenging discussions about food justice that regularly took place. Liz is passionate about working with–and for–their community, creating an engaging space where their neighbors can find nourishment, relaxation, and a connection to food, farming, and nature. Liz has worked hard with their team to establish the Equitable Food Distribution Program at Brooklyn Grange which has enabled 30% of all produce to go to New Yorkers at no cost.

Resources:

Website – https://www.brooklyngrangefarm.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BrooklynGrange

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/brooklyngrange/

And if you want to keep the conversation going, join us in our Facebook Group to connect with us and other farmers looking to grow their business!

We also have six free eguides to help you be more effective on your farm (Winter Growing, Pastured Poultry, Washing Shed Efficiency, Profitable Farmers Toolkit, What to Look for in a Farm Property, etc), which you can download here.