Rooftop Ready Seeds are Bred for Brooklyn

Jade Bush Beans are going to seed- in a window box.

Sure, you can buy garden-variety seeds at the hardware store, but if your tomatoes were intended for a suburban backyard, how will they fare in a 10-inch pot? Like people, plants that thrive here are a special breed, at home in cramped quarters and gritty conditions. That’s why farmer Zach Pickens—who tends the urban farm over at Riverpark in Manhattan—developed a side business selling seeds selected specifically for city life. All Rooftop Ready varieties—like Jade Bush Beans, which do well in window boxes or shallow buckets—are hand-collected from the sturdiest specimens on urban farms, including the one atop Pickens’ own Bushwick apartment. Most of his source plants have been Brooklyn residents for at least five years—which makes them cooler than your roommate—and a few were passed down by BK old-timers, so they’re all down with container living and the metro-area microclimate. Packs, $3.75, available at Rose Red & Lavender in Williamsburg and Hayseed’s Big City Farm Supply in Greenpoint. And if you’re lucky enough to have a little yard, they’ll do just fine in the ground, too.

Photo credit: Zach Pickens




Rachel Wharton is the former deputy editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. She won a 2010 James Beard food journalism award, holds a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University, and has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and reporter. A North Carolina native and a former features food reporter for the New York Daily News, she edited the Edible Brooklyn cookbook and was the co-author of both Handheld Pies and DiPalo's Guide to the Essential Foods of Italy. Her work also appears in publications such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Saveur.