Urban Gardens: Roberta’s
Bushwick could be consider an industrial wasteland to many. Not as fancy as Manhattan and definitely not as hip as Williamsburg, but all that is starting to change. With restaurants as popular as Roberta’s and others taking urban gardening into Brooklyn, Bushwick is becoming a fun destination to experience and eat locally grown food.
At first glance Roberta’s is your typical whole-in-the-wall restaurant, but if you look at their backyard, you’ll see what makes them stand out from the rest. Roberta’s prides themselves in only using produce that they buy from local farms and what they grow in their backyard. Roberta’s worked in collaboration with Brooklyn Grange (who they also buy produce from) back in 2010 to help them built the garden and utilize it.
It’s refreshing to see a restaurant that is so popular not give in and do the “easy” thing, like buying products from bigger companies. Instead they are doing their best to help the city they live in and giving the best produce they can offer to their costumers. I would recommend Roberta’s to anyone who likes good food made with local produce.
WHAT IS ROBERTA’S?
Founders (Photo: Boru O’Brien O’Connell/New York Magazine)
(What is Roberta’s? To 1:45/How do they plant? From 1:50)
The beginning (2010)
“An eco paradise, the restaurant has set up a sustainable garden in their own back yard. Two repurposed shipping containers were converted to elevated greenhouses to grow produce and herbs. The gardens also yield tomatoes, eggplants and greens, while fig, apple and peach trees grow throughout the yard. If you’ve been to Roberta’s, you’ll know its always packed, so their little garden could never keep up with hungry customers. The restaurant gets about only 20 percent of its produce from the backyard, but they supplements the rest of their farm fresh goodies from local farms, like Brooklyn Grange.” (Via Inhabitat)
“The soul of the place isn’t found in the kitchen, however, but in the restaurant’s backyard, where, hemmed in by cinderblock, razor wire, and corrugated steel, a garden—and many other things—grows. Herbs, flowers, and tomatoes sprout from repurposed tires and plastic hops bins. Craned-in shipping containers house a radio station and bakery, plus an office, all crowned by small vegetable patches. The vibe is of a future-primitive, self-sufficient compound whose inhabitants grow their own food and urinate on the compost pile (true story).” (Via The New York Times)
HOW DID ROBERTA’S START GARDENING?
(How did it start? to 2:23/ More about the space from 2:26/ About their collaborations from 3:10/ how has it changed? from 3:40)
“Melissa [Metrick (Head gardener)] utilizes every trick in the book to get the most out of the garden. Tomatoes twine up trellises, baby greens are planted in narrow rows amongst the tomatoes, and quick, successive crops go in and out of the garden all season.” (Via Digginfood.com)
“Roberta’s also harvests their own honey from on-site beehives. In-house staff tend to the bees and add fresh honey to salads and cheeses- you really can’t get any more local than that! But the restaurant is most famous for its incredible artisanal pizzas, which are overloaded with their fresh produce and herbs or locally raised meats.” (Via Inhabitat)
The success of Roberta’s comes from he said that the success comes from “the fact that the operation is part science/business and part art.” (via The Dodge Blog) and it’s a labor of passion and love.
MORE FUN AND INTERESTING LINKS
TED Talk: Time to Grow
National Geographic on urban gardening:
Tiny Williamsburg Hipster Garden
TED Talk: A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA
Follow Roberta’s garden on tumblr and Instagram.
Videos 1 & 2 via Kaboche.com
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