Farm and Blog Launched Sunday on Rooftop of Sixpoint Craft Ales, Red Hook, Brooklyn
A bantam hen seems proud of her newly laid egg.
Cathy Erway, the author of The Art of Eating In, is launching a new blog Monday that will be the successor to her long-running noteatingoutinny.com. The URL is lunchatsixpoint.com, and the subject matter will be her activities as one of Brooklyn's neophyte urban farmers.
A view of the rooftop micro-farm this last Saturday, chicken coop top center of photo.
She and Shane Welch, the founder of Sixpoint Craft Ales, started a micro-farm on the roof of the brewery this spring, with the objective of making the brewery as nearly self-sufficient as possible when it comes to food supply. They began with approximately 100 sawed-off beer kegs to use as garden containers, and planted a wide range of vegetables, berries, herbs, and flowers. Each keg contains a layer of topsoil mulched with cast-off coffee bean husks and other detritus from the nearby Stumptown roasting facility. Underneath the topsoil is much-lighter Gaia soil, composed of Styrofoam and other recycled materials. "One of the challenges of rooftop farming," noted Erway, "is to make the containers as light as possible so as not to undermine the structural integrity of the roof, and we've achieved that here with an ultra-light operation."
Erway among the containers in early May -- what, no overalls?
On May 5 I visited the micro-farm, located on the roof of the building on Van Dyke Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn, that contains the brewing operations, a mere block from IKEA and not far from the fabled ball fields. Most of the plants had been sprouted from seeds, though a few were grown from sets purchased at greenmarkets. The smell of hops, malt, and coffee husks perfumed the air. There was a hutch that would eventually be home to a few laying hens ("No roosters, they're too noisy," said Erway), and a reservoir system for water. Part of the task of running a container farm is constant watering in the hotter summer months.
A troll sleeps while on guard duty at bathtub strawberry patch. Compare the plants with their size in the previous picture.
I returned on Saturday to take more photos, and was astonished at how large the plants had grown. The cornstalks stood straight and tall, herbs grew in profusion along a sunny wall, and bright red strawberries could be seen under the dark green serrated leaves of the plants. Moreover, four chickens had been installed in their apartments, with plenty of wandering room downstairs, and a laying and sleeping area on top. As we opened a hatch door to the nests, a bantam chicken had just laid an egg that seemed way too big for her. She clucked and tried to hide it from us.
Final preparations for the launch party, which was held in the Sixpoint offices due to high heat and humidity outside on Sunday.
Yesterday, Erway held a launch party for the micro-farm and for her new blog, which should be up and running sometime Monday. Brunch was served to a crowd of bloggers, foodies, caterers, and urban farmers. There were big bowls of salad made with leaves just-plucked from the garden, and frittatas composed of eggs laid by the chickens. One guest brought homemade chipotle bagels, another long-aged cheddar cheese from an upstate farm, while a third came with a gluten-free cake made with tapioca starch and three other kinds of flour, topped with cherries and cream-cheese frosting. And, of course, there were pitchers of Sixpoint beer.
A green salad with leaves plucked from the garden (foreground), and frittatas made with eggs collected from the hens (background).
Next: More photos from the rooftop micro-farm.
A troll (reportedly recruited by Welch on the Web) poses next to a dwarf sunflower.
A system of cisterns is used to collect water for irrigation.
A view of the newly planted kegs in early May, empty chicken coop in background.
A sinuous Asian eggplant makes a premature appearance this last Saturday.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to New York dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.