Observant travelers bustling about JFK's Terminal 5 may occasionally catch a surprising glimpse of leafy green nestled amidst the airport's concrete maze. T5 Farm, a mostly organic (though not certified organic) rooftop garden founded by JetBlue, is currently in bloom, its 3,000 crates bursting with herbs, vegetables, and flowers.
The project was inspired by urban gardens, says Sophia Mendelsohn, Head of Sustainability at JetBlue, and got its start last year. Now in its second season, the garden is managed by Bradley Fleming, but much of the work is done by JetBlue employee volunteers. On Tuesdays and Fridays, members of the JetBlue staff lend a hand watering, weeding, and harvesting the crop—often while snacking on fresh leaves. JetBlue employees are also welcome to stop in and grab some produce to go, while the rest of the harvest is donated to City Harvest and a private food bank in Brooklyn, through a partnership with the non-profit group GrowNYC.
For Mendelsohn, there's something "truly New York" about the T5 Farm. "In New York, we don't have space to waste," she said. The idea was, she said, "to make a space that was idle efficient."
The garden is not currently open to the public, although some passersby were spotted slipping inside to snap photos. Mendelsohn hopes to open the space to more visitors in the future, but for now most of us will have to take in the greenery from the other side of the airport windows.