City Announces Opening of Rooftop Farm in Staten Island to Reduce Flooding, Grow Produce

Mayor Adams helps cut the ribbon on a new rooftop garden created with a grant from DEP to incentivize building owners to add green roofs. Image Credit: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office.

Produce from the farm will be used at two eateries whose profits benefit charities and scholarships. On April 19, 2022, Mayor Eric Adams and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala announced the opening of a new rooftop farm on top of the Commercial Commons Three building at 1441 South Avenue in Bloomfield, Staten Island. The farm will be named the Nicotra Grown Organic Rooftop Farm, named after the Nicotra Group, which owns the building.

The roof is approximately 32,000 square feet, with 23,375 square feet of green roof and 9,500 square feet of vegetated walkway. The roof features wildflowers and organic vegetables and was designed by the Brooklyn Grange. In an average year, 3.5 million gallons of rain would fall on the rooftop of this large commercial building, but will instead be absorbed by the farm. Diverting the rain helps prevent flooding, which is a common issue for many places across Staten Island. The additional greenery adds biodiversity to the area and helps improve air quality. 

According to the project profile on the DEP website, the production from the rooftop farm will be given to the Commons Cafe and Pienza Brick Oven Pizza, located less than a half mile from the fram. Designed as “social enterprise” restaurants, the profits are donated to scholarships for local schools, city streets beautification projects and other community nonprofits. Remaining produce will be donated to Project Hospitality, a local food pantry. 

The project cost $670,000 which was provided through a grant from DEP’s Green Infrastructure Grant Program. The program provides private property owners, nonprofits and businesses with funding to retrofit their roofs to green roofs to help manage stormwater runoff. DEP has committed over $14 million to 34 partners through this grant program, and the partners have contributed $7.5 million in matching funds. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis year round. For more information about the program, click here

Mayor Adams stated, “Too often, we ignore the role that food plays in the destruction of our environment. But shifting to more sustainable, plant-based diets and growing fresh vegetables that are accessible to every community is key to building a city that supports both human and planetary health. Our investment in this rooftop farm embodies the future of sustainable agriculture and resiliency by serving those in the neighborhood, and by absorbing stormwater and protecting New York Harbor, and it will deliver a healthier and more resilient future for generations to come.”

DEP Commissioner Aggarwala stated, “DEP’s Green Infrastructure Grant program encourages property owners to do their part to manage stormwater, reduce neighborhood flooding, and improve the health of our waterways. This project is a wonderful example of a partnership between government and a strong community leader to build green infrastructure that enhances the sustainability of the property while also helping to protect our shared environment.”

Lois Nicotra, co-founder of the Nicotra Group and philanthropist stated, “The produce and herbs from the Nicotra Grown Organic Rooftop Farm will be featured on our tables to serve New Yorkers, including at our two social enterprise eateries, COMMONS café and Pienza Brick Oven Pizza Café, where we donate 100 percent of our profits to charities and scholarships. When you eat a salad at the cafés, your meal is on a mission to help our community in so many ways, and the salad’s greens and tomatoes are fresh picked that morning.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



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