Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Farm on the Roof by Anastasia Cole Plakias

Why I wanted to read Anastasia Cole Plakias’s book The Farm on the Roof: What Brooklyn Grange Taught Us About Entrepreneurship, Community, and Growing a Sustainable Business:
Since "good" business books is one of my favorite reading genres I immediately added Plakias’s book to my reading list after receiving the following email from a marketing coordinator at Penguin Random House:

I met Anastasia Cole Plakias and the other founders of Brooklyn Grange on their rooftop in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Of course, there was “the wow factor” of standing on a farm in the middle of the concrete jungle. That night I enjoyed the aroma of fresh basil and listened to Anastasia jokingly lament keeping their adorable but expensive chickens. But mostly, I was impressed with the team. The group spoke so eloquently about how they’d come from backgrounds as diverse as food writing, finance, and hospitality, but had been drawn to this project—building the world’s largest commercial rooftop farm.

In The Farm on the Roof, Anastasia describes how she and her cofounders quit their jobs in the middle of a recession to turn their passion for food and farming into a functioning business. What they discovered was a world rich in opportunity, challenges, and hard-won losses. Today, Brooklyn Grange has established itself as a self-sustaining business that harvests more than 50,000 pounds of organically cultivated produce per year and partners with numerous nonprofits to promote healthy and strong communities.

But their story is about more than just farming. It serves as an instructional guide for anyone looking to start a project that is successful while making a positive impact. Anastasia writes with a wit and flair that transforms anecdotes about partnering with investors (some of whom supported the farm for reasons that had nothing to do with farming) and lease negotiation into scintillating, edge-of-your seat tales from the front lines of entrepreneurship.

As a creator of original content who writes with purpose, I believe you’ll be blown away by the Brooklyn Grange model. They’ve figured out a beautiful intersection of commerce and community. And at its core, The Farm on the Roof is an incredible story about utilizing whatever resources you have to turn your backyard idea into a sky-high success.

My thoughts on the book:

If you are looking for a book on how to create a rooftop garden or an agricultural book you will be disappointed in this book. The Farm on the Roof: What Brooklyn Grange Taught Us About Entrepreneurship, Community, and Growing a Sustainable Businessis Plakias’s account of how Brooklyn Grange, a company she co-founded in 2010,went from a dream to a viable socially conscious business over the course of five years.

I enjoyed Plakias’s writing style which is never academic and the entrepreneurial insight she provides:

Plakias and her partners quickly learn that in order for their business to be sustainable they needed to be profitable and in order to be profitable they needed alternative income streams. To do this they added events and began hosting classes. They also slowed down their growth plan and concentrated on the two gardens they already had. They discovered a good site with a landlord whose values complemented their own is more important that expansion.

I came away with a few tips for my own garden:

Kale, herbs and tomatoes are their most profitable crops. Summer squash needs a lot of space and carrots take 80 days to reach maturity. And I think of them every time I try to harvest lettuce in my husband’s newly created garden – the rows are too wide. A lesson they learned after the first couple of harvests and ended up changing ed their row’s depth during a redesign.

Bottom line:
The Farm on the Roof by Anastasia Cole Plakias is a valuable read for start-ups looking to create a socially conscious business or for those who enjoy reading about business or are looking for  entrepreneurial advice. To learn more about Brooklyn Grange visit their website. I would love to attend one of their butcher paper dinner events.

Do you enjoy reading about business? What business books do your recommend? 

Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing me with a review copy of this book.

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1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a really interesting book! I'm adding it to my list :)