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Zaro Bates, 26, is farmer-in-residence at the Urby complex on Staten Island. (Facebook/Urby)

Crops on top

This woman is running NYC’s first commercial farm in an apartment complex

September 23, 2016

Smack bang in the middle of a new development of 900 apartments on New York’s Staten Island is an astonishing site — a lush, 4,500-square foot organic farm. And nurturing this small urban miracle, set atop an underground parking garage, is farmer-in-residence Zaro Bates.

Bates, 26, is in the midst of her first growing season, that has already produced thousands of pounds of vegetables, featuring 50 types of produce — from mustard greens to cut flowers and Asian broccolini. With help from husband Asher Landes, 29, who runs the apiary, the farm is providing its wares to a weekly farm stand, three restaurants, a CSA-style “veggie pick-up bundle,” and is making donations to a local food bank. Bates also runs gardening workshops for residents and the public.

Zaro Bates (R) with husband Asher Landes, at their famr stand. (Facebook/Urby)
Zaro Bates (R) with husband Asher Landes, at their farm stand. (Facebook/Urby)

Bates’ qualifications for the job include studying at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University — where she looked at the societal shift away from agriculture and toward urban centers — as well as apprenticing at the rooftop farms at Brooklyn Grange, and exploring small-scale farms around the world.

On Saturdays, the public can shop at a farm stand in the lobby of the Urby complex, and the communal kitchen is opened up to host cooking demonstrations.

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