Gotham Greens, founded in Brooklyn in 2009, is perhaps one of New York’s best examples of the integration of farming with everyday city life. Its four rooftop greenhouses -- three in New York and one in Chicago -- use 100% soil-free, hydroponic technology to produce nearly 2 million pounds of leafy greens, herbs, and tomatoes each year. Its flagship greenhouse was built in Greenpoint in 2011, but it’s Gotham’s second Brooklyn location that’s undoubtedly the more well-known of the two. Built over the sparkling new Whole Foods location in Gowanus in 2013, the greenhouse measures more than 20,000sqft and and is the first-ever example of a commercial greenhouse to be fully integrated into a supermarket. New Yorkers love their Whole Foods and, in Gowanus, shoppers can not only pick up their cherished Greek yogurt, salted almond butter, and pita chips, but also peppery arugula, musky basil, and crunchy bok choy that travels all of a few floors down from the greenhouse.
“Herbs and leafy greens are highly perishable,” explains Nicole Baum, Gotham Greens’ marketing and partnerships manager, one morning as she shows me around the state-of-the-art greenhouse that’s fragrant with Italian, Thai, and purple basil. “After just two days, a lot of this stuff starts going to slime, and with traditional supermarket greens, they’re just old by the time they get to you. Here, we’re growing so close to the end consumer -- the produce gets picked in the morning, then goes down the elevator to the retail store on that same day.”