Top Down: A Rooftop Blooms in Brooklyn

The Atlantic's Food Channel has really been hitting it out of the park lately—covering everything from Spanish almonds to national food policy to the issues involved with local organics at Wal-Mart (check out this video for some of the most entertaining pronunciation you'll ever hear). 

Today, there's this story about a rooftop commercial farm in Brooklyn. The success of Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is an amazing testament to creativity and ingenuity—and a promising case study for urban ag in dense areas. The writer (and farmer) Annie Novak explains that she has long used Wendell Berry as her inspiration and touchstone, something to return to in times both hopeful and desperate:

In late February, between planting out my tomato seeds and wading through 2009 farm-year taxes, I picked up a book of Berry's poetry to help lift the circles out from under my eyes. It seems that whenever I'm exhausted, there is Mr. Berry with a clarion call. 

I had been thinking of how difficult it is to grow in the city, of the lack of good soil and land access, of the smog and the trucks rumbling by on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Sometimes it makes me happy, and other times monstrously depressed, to think of the stubbornness of nature below and above New York City: of weeds prying up through sidewalk cracks, or the red-tailed hawks circling their way back into our ecosystem by nesting on Fifth Avenue. How heartening, how necessary, that the passage I first opened to was this: 

In a country once forested, the young woodland remembers the old, a dreamer dreaming of an old holy book, an old set of instructions./And the soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest/And under the pavement, the soil is dreaming of grass.

For more on Wendell Berry, check out Grid publisher Alex Mulcahy's review of his book Bringing it to the Table.