Five stories above the concrete streets of Williamsburg, you’ll find a rooftop botanical garden.
“Year one, your plants are always sleeping. Year two, they’re creeping. Year three, they’re leaping,” says Liana Blomquist, whose plant business is certainly leaping. She started Brooklyn Rooftop Botanicals in 2018 after working for a mainstream cosmetics company, where she identified a gap that needed to be filled.
“I think people are overthinking and nitpicking ingredients. Like which ingredients are good for them, which ones are not, when they actually should be focusing more on where their ingredients come from.”
At Brooklyn Rooftop Botanicals, most ingredients are grown locally, in the middle of this concrete jungle. Blomquist says she’s looking to build her business with the environment in mind.
“Most of the ingredients you’re buying in your products are from elsewhere, and the way that they get here is through ocean freight or air freight, and that creates a lot of carbon emissions,” she says.
Blomquist is helping combat climate change by growing plants across three different rooftops: two in Williamsburg and one in Downtown Brooklyn. She gets creative to stay eco-friendly.
“When you put a wine bottle upside down, it helps to slowly release the water into the soil, so your plants are getting the right amount of water they need,” she says.
Her process includes boiling the plant with water, filtering through a coffee filter and adding glycerin, which is often used as a moisturizer. A natural preservative keeps the product fresh.
Blomquist shares her techniques on social media to help educate others on how to do it themselves
“It’s not just about realizing where your ingredients come from, it’s also about realizing that you too can create some of your things yourself,” she says.
By empowering her followers to create their own products, Blomquist hopes to spread awareness about sustainability. There are more than 40,000 acres of rooftop space across New York City that could be converted into gardens. Those green spaces would help contain storm water run-off, especially during major hurricanes. Gardens also help insulate buildings, which provides natural heat during those cold winter months.