An urban farm on a skyscraper rooftop, shared gardens, guided tours from the locals… New York can be enjoyed to the full in eco-responsibility fashion. Follow the greenway!

Walking the High Line

Since spring 2019, American sweetgums and lime trees have spread their branches on the High Line, the largest trees ever planted on the Manhattan greenway. A green walkway and wooden terraces are features of The Spur, a new space towards Hudson Yards at the north end of this former stretch of freight line which was converted into a park 10 years ago. Home to 500 species of plant, the High Line has a wonderful range of botanical diversity.

« We have seen the return of 22 species of bee »,

smiles Eric Rodriguez, the horticultural manager. Walkers also migrate in large numbers on sunny days - 7 million per annum – to this elevated walkway that ends two kilometres south at the Whitney Museum. Completed in 2015, the building, designed by Renzo Piano, is one of the few museums to have achieved the LEED Gold standard, a US certification for ethical design. Rather than focus on its energy efficiency, you can take in the paintings of Edward Hopper who left some of his works to the Whitney.


 ©sangaku/iStock

 

Yoga in Central Park

The Big Apple’s green lung is still Central Park which has had a total ban on cars since 2018. Fit Tours NYC offers a « sunrise yoga » walk that includes historical anecdotes and exercise aimed at reconnecting with nature. Ideal for jet lag. Stretch out under centuries-old elms after attempting the « tree pose» on an outcrop of Manhattan schale, the hard rock that steadfastly supports the city’s huge buildings.

 

Shared gardens in East Village

Unsuspected corners of greenery hide in East Village, an historically committed and bohemian district that is home to the greatest concentrationof shared gardens in New York. A hundred of them were built on abandoned wasteland between 1970 and 1990, offering an opportunity to take a break in the shade of the skyscrapers


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Organic vegetable garden by the East River

What could be more chic than a dining locavore in Manhattan? Basil, fennel, chilli… The chef at the River Park restaurant picks it from his organic vegetable garden that overlooks the highway running alongside the East River.

«  We also grow indigo to dye our table linen! »,

remarks Jonathan Sumner, the gardener in Doc Martins.

 

Urban farmhouse and vineyards on Brooklyn rooftops 

A former shipyard, the Brooklyn Navy Yard is home to the largest rooftop farm in New York: the 6,000m2 field of Brooklyn Grange Farm from which 5 tonnes of organic fruit and vegetables are produced each year. You will also find a chicken coop and beehive. Vines are grown on a neighbouring rooftop, the Rooftop Reds. Devin Shomaker gathered his second harvest there in 2018.

« For the 2017 vintage, I’ve produced 200 bottles which I plan to sell for a thousand dollars each »,

he confides. The wine served comes from vineyards in Finger Lakes in upstate New York and is priced 39 € per bottle,

« a good by the glass price for Brooklyn! »,

explains the young entrepreneur with a gift for marketing.


 ©littleny/iStock

 

Compost Courses on Governors Island

Another urban farm has been developed on Governors Island. We wander between rows of carrots and parsley that are found on the plates of the island’s stalls and diners including Little Eva’s. There is even lavender in bloom for 14 July! There are resident goats, a compost course is given to New Yorkers and an oyster farming school is working on the reintroduction of oysters, not for consumption, but to recreate an ecosystem in the bay. The island tour takes twenty minues by bike. There is also the option to spend a night in a tent in the chic Collective Retreats, the statue of Liberty looming off shore. The one downside: the din of helicopters which, without authorisation to fly over Manhattan, circle Governors Island.

 

Participatory tourism on Coney Island

Longing to lie on fine sand? Head to Coney Island at the end of the subway line. Taking a participatory tourism approach, we are guided by our « Big Apple Greeter », a concept born in New York that sees residents showing you around their neighbourhood free of charge. On this particular day, Jay, a retired teacher, plays the ambassadorial role for the old-fashioned seaside resort.

« The beach was much bigger when I was a child! »,

laments this grandson of Romanian and Polish migrants who arrived in the 1890s. After a blast of sea air, a few circuits on the roller coasters at Luna Park and a hot dog at Nathan’s, it’s time to head back to the forest of Manhattan buildings.

 

Useful information

. Central Park yoga classes at dawn (« Sunrise Yoga », 35 €) with Fit Tours NYC.
. Locavore dining at River Park, created by Tom Colicchio, a judge on the Top Chef USA show, dishes from 18 € (option to just have a drink on its green terrace).
. East Village Tour in French: 235 € for 4 people with New York Off Road.
. Brooklyn Grange Farm visit: open to the public on Saturdays.
. Guided sustainable development tour at Brooklyn Navy Yard (17 €).
. Enjoy a glass sitting among the vines : tables and hammocks provided during summer, between the vines planted in containers, opening hours available from www.rooftopreds.com.
. Governors Island is served by a ferry that takes ten minutes from the southern tip of Manhattan, from May to October, free before midday at weekends. Sleeping in the tents is popular with New Yorkers so book well in advance - www.collectiveretreats.com.
. Eco hotel: 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, with views of the Brooklyn Bridge on one side and the Statue of Liberty on the other. Rooms designed with recycled wood, hourglass timers in the shower to limit water consumption, filtered water fountains… Doubles from 262 €.
. A beautiful book: The Gardens of the High Line in New York, by landscapers Piet Oudolf and Rick Darke, to learn all about this model of urban nature (Ulmer, 39.90 €).


Further information available on: the New York Tourist Office website.

 

The tourist attractions mentioned

High Line High Line
High Line
New York
Whitney Museum of American Art Whitney Museum of American Art
Whitney Museum of American Art
New York
3:00
Central Park Central Park
Central Park
New York
2:00
East Village East Village
East Village
New York
1:00
Statue of Liberty Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty
New York