You can now tour the food forest atop the Javits Center

It may not feel like a farm from the sidewalk level, but atop the Javits Center, pears, apples, currants, and serviceberries sprout among the neighborhood’s massive glass skyscrapers. And now you can see it for yourself with a 90-minute tour for just $5. 

On a tour of the Javits Center’s six-block campus, you’ll walk through the building’s rooftop farm and see how the 36-year-old building transformed into a model of sustainability. 

A big part of the building’s eco-friendly model is its green roof and rooftop farm. Adding to the 10,000 square foot orchard they planted in 2021, rooftop farming pros from Brooklyn Grange installed the food forest late this spring, and it’s already bearing fruit. Most of the berries have completed their fruiting for the season, and fall apples are about to ripen, Ben Flanner, CEO and co-founder of Brooklyn Grange, explained.  

A variety of plants and flowers grow on the rooftop at the Javits Center.
Photograph: Courtesy of Brooklyn Grange | A forest oasis in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen.

Farming on a rooftop isn’t easy, as the plants there endure high winds and direct sun exposure, but the crops on the Javits Center fared well this summer, Orion Ashmore, Brooklyn Grange farm manager of the Farm at the Javits Center, said. 

“There is a saying that goes something like ‘introduce one species and seven more show up.’ I can’t say that’s factually accurate for the food forest, but it feels like it! It’s a really satisfying experience to curate a new environment, step back for a bit, and watch life move in,” Ashmore said. “We’ve seen plants yield sooner than we were expecting, spotted migratory birds, and watched an ebb and flow of different insects.”

The forest features native species, including some, like serviceberries and currants, believed to have once grown on the very land where the Javits Center is now located. It’s designed to mimic the ecosystems found in New York’s forests and to create a more complex and resilient space to grow food. Farmers selected plants that could survive beneath the young fruit trees and continue to thrive as the canopy develops in the next several years.

If you ever attend an event at the Javits Center, your meal may include foods harvested on the rooftop. The crops are also used in the building’s employee cafeteria and for giveaways during tours. Any leftovers are donated to community-based food organizations. 

Take a tour 

Tours are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10am and 1pm, and there’s plenty of availability through the fall. Tours cost $5 and can be booked here. Wear your walking shoes, as you’ll be covering plenty of ground.

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