Rooftop ‘farm’ will soon be sprouting atop three schools

Daniel L. Squadron

April 21, 2011

The Villager

Volume 80, Number 46 | April 21 - 27, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

By Betsy Kim

Plans for creating a school garden in the sky are taking root in the East Village. Teachers, administrators and students from P.S. 64, the Tompkins Square Middle School and the Earth School have come together under one roof — a green roof that they are proposing for 600 E. Sixth St. The rooftop uniting all three schools will be developed into a green deck, with an edible organic garden, called the 5th Street Farm Project.

Michael Arad, the architect who designed the project, described his first experience of walking up to the roof:

“It was kind of like this hidden valley that you discovered,” he said. “There are no tall buildings and you just had this enormous dome of sky over you and this fantastic view of the Manhattan skyline. It was just this quiet, very beautiful, empty space, just there and not being used in any way.”

Arad is also the architect who designed the World Trade Center Memorial, “Reflecting Absence.”

He became involved with the building of the urban farm as a parent whose son attended the Earth School.

That school’s mission statement emphasizes peaceful conflict resolution and preservation of the Earth’s resources. One of the school founders, Abbe Futterman, said the garden is a natural extension of the school’s environmental focus. To teach her students about health, nutrition and organic farming, Futterman started an organic container garden in the blacktop space outside her classroom, which is accessible through a large window.

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