Hydroponics is not a new idea, but it is a great way to grow using less water and other resources and it's completely soil-free. Living in New York it can be hard to come by space to set up some kind of large scale hydroponic system in your non-existent basement. There are other options though. Go over to the Windowfarms site and get directions on how to build your own hydroponic system without the need for expensive grow lights. They have simple instructions on turning your window into a mini-farm and advice on what are some of the best types of plants to grow such as herbs, cherry tomatoes, peppers, okra, and strawberries that all do well in hydroponic setups. This can also be a great project to do with the kids.
Windowfarms Official How-tos