Zaro Bates

Zaro Bates

Empress Green Inc. Founder, Staten Island Urby Farmer-in-Residence


Staten Island, NY, USA.  At a young age, Zaro decided that she could make a difference through her food choices. In Kindergarten she begged her parents to become a vegetarian, and throughout her youth she was very interested in the food industry- among other societal issues. She attended Cornell University as a Development Sociology major in the College of Agriculture and Life Science (CALS). The Development Sociology coursework challenged her to think critically about social and ecological consequences of modern development, and to examine the work being done to address complex global issues like food security and climate change.

Back in her hometown she apprenticed at Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm- an intensive green roof and the world’s largest soil-based rooftop farm. There she met fellow farmer Asher Landes, and after completing the apprenticeship the two traveled to various regions of the world to explore other outstanding examples of modern farming before settling in New York again to launch the urban farm at Staten Island-Urby, a new residential development.

At Urby, Zaro has taken on the unique role of “Farmer in Residence,” a position she developed as consultant on the project. This role has gained international notoriety as the first of its kind among urban residential developments. She and Asher now operate the Urby “farm” – a 4,500 square foot market garden on an intensive green roof, and the 20-hive rooftop apiary, as a husband and wife team.

In 2016 Zaro and Asher founded Empress Green Inc. to generate awareness and empowerment around growing food through education and consulting projects. Through Empress Green, Zaro seeks to offer platforms for people to incorporate food production and sustainability into their homes, schools, and businesses. She is excited by the application of green roofs in urban agriculture, and hopes to see more uptake of the technology in cities around the world.