This week, I was reminded that through innovation and entrepreneurship, a man’s hobby can become his livelihood; a passion can become a career. At the Brooklyn Navy Yards, a group of pioneering agriculturists and nature-lovers are not only doing what they love, but have succeeded in the unlikely and (not-surprisingly) profitable task of bringing mid-scale farming to the urban setting of New York City. Brooklyn Grange is an inspiring story and–I believe–a prefigure of future agricultural systems.
Over the past ten years, an increasing wave of environmental concern has swept across metropolitan America. Everything from carbon footprints and water depletion to the overuse of toxic chemicals and genetic modification in produce have become popular talking points, arousing suspicion to the point of changing behaviors among a significant number of mindful consumers. This is the wave that Brooklyn Grange has ridden to success, and the company’s role will become increasingly relevant as global, and especially urban, populations swell. They have showcased (on industrial and residential rooftops) a model, whereby consumers can access healthy, local, and sustainably-produced food at reasonable prices. The ability to shorten the farm-to-table supply chain is a powerful competitive advantage and an important environmental innovation.
It seems to be the dismal lot of most on this planet that day-to-day survival requires spending the bulk of one’s life doing something boring, hated, or both. Many search long and hard for a career they are passionate about only to settle for a tedious 9-to-5 in order to pay the bills. Many others decide early on that the compromise is inevitable and deliberately aim for the most lucrative-but-achievable among meaningless professions. But who would not rather earn a good living doing something they love, something they actually care about?
There is a noticeable difference in people who have found that intersection between passion and financial stability, and it increasingly seems to me that with ingenuity and an entrepreneurial spirit, such success is attainable. Brooklyn Grange is an encouraging case in point.