STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — “I’m going to plant the Mayor Eric Adams fig tree,” philanthropist and Nicotra Group co-founder Richard Nicotra said to the New York City mayor Tuesday.
The planting of the fig tree on the Nicotra Group’s newly opened rooftop farm was Nicotra’s promise to Adams if he returns there in the summertime.
The mayor gathered with other city and state officials, along with Nicotra Group founders Richard Nicotra and Lois Nicotra, braving a windy afternoon to cut the ceremonial ribbon of the Nicotra Grown Organic Rooftop Farm on the roof of Corporate Commons Three in Bloomfield, which houses an array of businesses, including the Advance/SILive.com’s new offices.
The farm, which was designed by Brooklyn Grange, includes 23,375 square feet of green roof and 9,500 square feet of vegetated walkway featuring fresh organic vegetables such as rhubarb and arugula.
The $675,000 project funded by the city’s Green Infrastructure Grant Program will not only provide fresh produce, it will also reduce neighborhood flooding, absorbing millions of gallons of stormwater.
“This green rooftop farm is a model for using space that’s often overlooked, feeding communities fresh and local food, and building a more resilient New York City,” Nicotra said.
The ribbon cutting was one of many activities the mayor is attending this week in celebration of Earth Week.
Adams said that the Nicotra Grown Organic Rooftop Farm exemplifies the city’s efforts to creatively utilize spaces for sustainable practices that are beneficial for both the environment and New Yorkers.
“We can’t grow more land, but we do have more rooftops that we can utilize. It’s great to be here on Staten Island during Earth week as we continue to look at the great things we’re doing around Earth Week. Every New Yorker and every community deserves open green space and access to sustainable healthy nutritional foods,” he said.
“The Nicotra Grown Organic Rooftop Farm is another way we show our commitment to sustainability and our love for Staten Island,” Nicotra added.
‘A LABOR OF LOVE’
Referring to the farm as a “labor of love,” philanthropist and Nicotra Group co-founder Lois Nicotra noted that the project was seven years in the making.
In a joint statement, the Nicotras told the Advance/SILive that opening the rooftop farm is “the right thing” and part of their focus on “sustainable efforts and building relationships with the community.
“Our Hilton and COMMONS café guests enjoy the fresh food, and our Nicotra Team and Brooklyn Grange will work with neighbors and students to host community engagement events. Our farm is a gift to Staten Island in so many ways, and finishing this project over the last two challenging years kept us focused on the future. Planting seeds will yield a harvest – and today we were proud to welcome the Mayor, DEP [Department of Environmental Protection], DOB [Department of Buildings], the mayor’s administration, and our elected representatives to show the start of our crops and celebrate a special moment,” they said.
“This is the first time in 46 years that we ever got a grant from the city…We’re going to use that to everyone’s advantage,” Richard Nicotra noted.
The produce and herbs from the farm will be featured in the Nicotras’ two social enterprise eateries, COMMONS café and Pienza Brick Oven Pizza Café, from which the Nicotra Group donates 100% of profits to local charities and scholarships.
“When you eat a salad at the cafés, your meal is on a mission to help our community in so many ways, and the salad’s greens and tomatoes are fresh picked that morning,” Lois Nicotra said.
In addition to produce from the farm, table grapes grown in a vineyard on Corporate Commons Three’s ground floor will be donated to local soup kitchens on Staten Island.
Plugging another business in the Nicotra Group portfolio, Richard Nicotra joked that the Hilton Hotel could host Adams’ wedding.
“We also own the Hilton Hotel across the street. So if the mayor decides to get married someday at the Hilton, his salad will be made with a tomato grown here,” he said.
THE NICOTRA GROUP PORTFOLIO
Corporate Commons Three has achieved a Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, which means the structure has been awarded the silver designation under a nationally-recognized green building program.
The building is the latest addition to the Nicotra Group’s Bloomfield-based Corporate Park of 1.5 million square feet amid a 415-acre preserve. The Corporate Park of Staten Island, includes the Teleport, Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton Inn & Suites.