Wind Breaks: Brooklyn Grange

Ann Chen

Windbreaks is a wind monitoring kit and design proposal for urban rooftop farmers to help them understand destructive wind patterns in a localized environment and alleviate wind stress on crops and soil.

Rooftop farming is a relatively new addition to the agricultural community and fast becoming a viable solution to locally grown produce for urban areas. However, wind dynamics on high rooftops creates debilitating conditions for the crops and soil, causing soil erosion, nutrient loss and plant stress. Windbreaks is an open source low cost wind data collection kit and design proposal for urban rooftop farms to help them track and analyse wind data so that they can develop ways to minimize the debilitating effects of wind on soil and crops. A microcontroller based wind monitoring device collects wind directional and speed data. Created specifically for Brooklyn Grange, an urban rooftop farm in New York City is a four stage design proposal based on permaculture principles and wind data analysis that will help reduce soil erosion and extend the growing season into the winter months when the wind's effects are most damaging.

Topics researched include: soil conservation, permaculture, horticulture, landscape architecture, green roof technology, food systems, biomimicry in design, soil erosion.


Christopher Alexander, A Pattern Language

Janine Benyus, BioMimicry

Lorraine Johnson, City Farmer

Michael Pollan, Omnivore's Dilemma

Albert Foster, Approved practices in soil conservation

Soil Erosion research methods

Graeme Hopkins, Living Architecture

André Viljoen, Continuous Productive Landscapes

Theodore Osmundson, Rooftop Gardens


Farm Hack (Nov 10-11)

Jamie Lerner, The Sustainable City: Learning from Curitiba (February 6, 2013)

CSDS Sustainability Crash Course, Pratt University (March 23)

Just Foods Conference (March 29-30, 2013)

Interviews, Site Visits

Matt Rader + Pamela Reed, Rooftop gardeners, Brooklyn

Emily Francois, Farm Manager, Eagle Street Farms

Ben Flanner, Farmer, Brooklyn Grange

Matt Jefferson, Farmer, Brooklyn Grange

Daniel Wendlek, DB Coop

Greenpoint Greenery

Urban Farmers and gardeners interested in rooftop growing. Architects, ecologists, sustainability people interested in collecting data on wind dynamics in urban environments.

User Scenario
The code and instructions on how to construct a wind sensing kit will be available online. All the parts can be purchased easily online as well. Farmers and gardeners can use these kits to understand how wind dynamics work on their specific rooftops and borrow from the design strategies I've proposed to adapt to their rooftop garden.

The wind sensing kit is made up of a wind anemometer (detects wind speed) and a wind directional gauge, PVC tubes and connectors, container (plastic or weatherproof), Arduino, SD Card Reading Shield, breadboard and wires.

The design proposal is represented with photographs, pencil and watercolor drawings and an architectural model made of card stock, paper, wire, glue, ink.

I learned so much about the challenges farmers and green roof designers face, about urban agriculture, urban ecosystems, food systems, horticulture, and plants. I learned there are possibly better ways to build and design models.