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 The URL is, 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.

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