Rooftop Gardening Part 2: Garden Party

Our New York City team tends to their urban garden

[Editor’s note: The following guest post is written by Lauren Miura Stempeck, associate director of marketing for The Nature Conservancy in New York. This is the second post in a series about urban gardening. Read the first post here.]

Feeling inspired by the rooftop garden at the Conservancy’s New York City office? This week, we share five essential steps for getting started with your coworkers in a workplace garden project.

1) Gather the team. While many of your colleagues may like the idea of a rooftop garden — especially enjoying fresh veggies and herbs all summer– realistically, not everyone in the office is going to get down and dirty. So it’s essential to determine who’s committed to doing the work of gardening. This spring, it was easy for our garden guru Desiree Herrera to get about 10 of us on board. Many of us live in apartments that lack outdoor space to grow our own gardens. Plus, nurturing a garden is a great way to de-stress during or after the workday.

2) Decide what you want to grow. When thinking about what to plant, take into consideration:

  • The space you can dedicate to the garden
  • The local climate
  • Your tastes

Since this is our office’s first rooftop garden – and for some of us, our first garden ever – we agreed to start with basic veggies and herbs that grow well in containers: tomatoes, peppers, kale, green onions, arugula and herbs.

This week's harvest

3) Who’s got what? Before you buy anything, take an inventory of what supplies your coworkers have at home and would be willing to contribute. Even among our office’s mostly-novice gardeners, we were able to collect several herb containers, pots, and seedlings of heirloom tomatoes, peppers, and arugula. A colleague with a car offered to buy some inexpensive bedding plants that got our garden off to a strong start.

4) Determine your budget. Check out garden supply websites to figure out a rough cost estimate for the supplies you’ll need. In addition to planters and seeds, don’t forget to budget for gloves, a watering device, and lots of organic potting soil. At our office, we figured that we’d need at least $250 to get started, or about $25 per person. A small price to pay for a summer full of fresh veggies and herbs!

5) Figure out logistics. To avoid future conflicts or misunderstandings, sit down with your coworkers to hash out any outstanding details. For example:

  • Who’s responsible for buying supplies, and hauling the soil up to the roof? Like true New Yorkers, we got ours delivered.
  • Who will water the plants, and make sure they’re healthy? We set up a weekly schedule to split up the watering, but it has rained so much lately that we haven’t had to water very often.
  • How will you share the produce you grow? We plan on sharing our abundance with the entire office – not just the people who contributed to the garden.

To keep tabs on the garden and see photos of our urban conservation project in action — “Like” The Nature Conservancy in New York on Facebook!

[Images: TNC]

If you believe in the work we’re doing, please lend a hand.


  1. Could you name the items you have in your basket?

  2. Hi Jordan, it’s rosemary, basil, scallions, and parsely.

  3. When I saw the link to this on New York Great Places, I thought it was about Green Roofs. You might want to change the name to Urban Container Gardening, which is what I do. I have many plants on the balcony of my 16th floor apartment, with great southern exposure. I’m jealous at how great your herbs are doing, better than mine! I also have radishes, cukes, three kinds of tomatoes and bell peppers. I tried to start a garden club in my apartment building, but nobody responded. This is my third year at this.
    I look forward to exchanging experiences.


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