Community Serivce

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Green Tuesdays: An Inspiring Rooftop Farm


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Rooftop Farm in Greenpoint

I know we’re a little early for garden talk for most parts of the country, but I was just reading about urban gardner Annie Novak in who brought this 6000 square foot rooftop garden in Greenpoint Brooklyn to fruition. The Eagle Street Rooftop Farm has a Sunday market and also provides fresh produce to local restaurants.

This innovative farm utilizes the latest rooftop gardening technologies while remaining organic, which is not an easy feat. Luckily Novak is up for the job, and has an eager corps of volunteers she’s training to be urban farmers. The fresh food and the view are their own reward.

To learn more about where to buy their produce or to volunteer, check out

Top photo via Flickr, photos 2 & 3 from


Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Extra Veggies? Don’t Fret!


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Did you overplant your veggie garden in an overzealous micro-local food movement frenzy this year? Do you want to plant a vegetable garden but wonder what you’ll do with 25 cucumbers all at once? These are not problems. Check out Plant a Row for the Hungry at to find out where you can donate your excess harvest.


Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Mies and the Giant Zip-Lock Bag…


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As many of you know, The Farnsworth House has suffered great damage from the latest round of flooding in September 2008. The house was built in a floodplain, but Mies thought the water would only reach the floor in the most severe of circumstances. Apparently, he was wrong. The Farnsworth House site asks for flood mitigation ideas, but they also include a “heard it” list, which had me in stitches. I just had to share it with you:

Before you get started though…

We have, over the course of our five years managing this property, continually investigated solutions to the threat posed by the river.  To that end, we begin this discussion with a list of previously proposed ideas:

1. Placement of a pontoons under the building
2. Longer column extensions that slide out of their footings
3. Szikorsky Helicopter to lift the 300 ton house
4. Hydraulic jacks to raise it in place
5. Building up the site flood plain by 12 ft.
6. Move the house to high ground
7. Retractable flood walls surrounding the house.
8. Waterproofing everything inside the house (vinyl upholstery, plastic laminate wood?)
9. Inflatable raft under the house
10. Internal sandbags around furniture and core
11. Dikes and dams
12. Moats
13. Fixed Moment Frame below the soil
14. Sandbags
15. Temporary flood walls
16. Reverse aquarium designed to rise out of the ground
17. Giant Zip lock bag
18. Steel waterproof shutters

When considering these ideas we evaluate them against the following criteria:
• Cost
• Sensitivity to Preservation Initiatives
• Practicality

These are the same criteria the experts will use in considering your ideas.

The problem for me in finding a solution is that the house is so connected to the site. Moving it changes everything; the planned vistas, the way it relates to the topography, the idea of the floating house in the floodplain. Then again, I’m trained as a landscape architect so I am very biased towards the relationship of built work to site. If you have any bright ideas that do not involve a Sikorsky helicopter or the world’s largest Zip-Lock bag (hey Zip-Lock, have I got a marketing idea for you…), click here to submit it. For some reason, “Rollin’ on a River” is going through my head and I’m picturing some sort of Transformer action happening with the house and a tall stacks riverboat…and now casinos are now entering my mind. Not good.

  • All photos from The photos on that site are stunning, go check out the gallery if you need some inspiration today.
  • Second photo by Jon miller, Hedrich Blessing
  • Third photo by Tigerhill Studio
  • Fourth photo by LPCI

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Mosaic Mania / Empty Storefront Art Initiatives


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I was googling to find out more information for you about a new public art program in Philadelphia (Arts on South) and I stumbled on this really fun blog, Mosiac Art Source. I wound up scrolling through for way too long and forgot all about the sixth borough and how they are giving artists free space in vacant buildings on South Street to try and “breathe new life” into an area that is suffering due to economic conditinos. Anyway, enjoy scrolling the mosaic image collection here, and read about how Pittsfield Mass succeeded with a similar empty storefront arts program here.

Philly mosaic building image by flickr member Scuzzi.


Friday, August 29th, 2008

Green the Ghetto


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Have you heard of Majora Carter? She rocks. In 2001 she founded Sustainable Bronx, an organization that “aims to alleviate poverty and remediate the environment through green-collar jobs.” She says “we believe that don’t you need to move out of your neighborhood to live in a better one. We believe we need to create opportunities for people who are living here already so they can stay.”

She wrote a $1.25 million dollar grant for The South Bronx Greenway:

She’s big into  green roofs as well.  There’s a Smart Roof Demonstration Project video here. To make a contribution towards the Greening the Ghetto effort, click here.

quotes and first two images via

before and after renderings by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects