From rooftops to abandoned lots, from school yards to greenhouses, gardens and farms are popping up all over Boston as urban agriculture and the local food movement continues to grow. Food Tank has created a list of ten of the city’s innovative urban agriculture projects.
1. Berkeley Community Garden is a community of 140 farmers in Boston’s South End. The garden grows a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, including bitter melon, cilantro, chinese long beans, and broccoli. In addition to producing food, the garden also provides information and resources to gardeners, and is one of the few community gardens in Boston open to the public.
2. Bloombrick Urban Agriculture is an indoor farm located in the heart of Cambridge. They “specialize in growing and selling still living microgreen, wheatgrass, and other select produce in hydroponic and soil systems”, but have a much larger vision for the future. Bloombrick hopes to help cities become fully sustainable, truly local, and dynamically regenerative, starting with Boston. They want to show people that home gardening and commercial urban farming is practical, feasible, and essential.
3. City Growers, with the help of local community partners, helps to reclaim and secure abandoned land throughout the city of Boston for growing food. By transforming the vacant lots in Boston into “ intensive urban farms that are economically and environmentally sustainable”, City Growers “[creates] employment for community members at livable wages, [addresses] food security issues by increasing local agricultural production capacity, [and increases] local access to affordable, nutrient-rich foods.”
4. CitySprouts provides a school gardening program that is integrated into the Boston Public School’s curriculum. CitySprouts is currently operating in 12 public schools in Cambridge, MA. The organization also provides support and resources to public schools across Boston. These services are available through three different programs: Classroom to Garden, which supports teachers as they extend their lessons into the school gardens; Food Education through food-producing school gardens; and CitySprouts Summer Intern Program, which helps youth build connections with their local food system and the urban natural environment.
5. The Food Project uses sustainable agriculture to engage the youth in Massachusetts in social and personal change. Since 1991, The Food Project has provided youth with valuable experiences pertaining to our food system and food justice. They have farms across eastern Massachusetts, including several urban farms in Boston. The food produced on Boston farms supports the Dudley Town Common farmers’ market and several local hunger relief organizations.
6. Green City Growers provides the services necessary to transform unused space into urban farms. They help people of all skill levels with gardens by transforming yards, rooftops, and vacant lots into thriving, organic urban vegetable gardens and farms.
7. Higher Ground Farm is Boston’s first rooftop farm. Located on a 55,000 square foot space on top of the Boston Design Center, Higher Ground Farm grows greens, tomatoes, and herbs that are sold to many local restaurants. Starting in 2014, with hopes of increasing access to fresh, healthy food and contributing to the sustainability of the food system, the farm will be offering community supported agriculture (CSA) shares and will be selling its produce at local farmers markets.
8. ReVision Urban Farm is a community-based urban agriculture project. Victory Programs, an organization dedicated to helping homeless individuals and families, uses its fields to grow produce and provide nutritious, and culturally appropriate food to the residents of the ReVision Family Home. Produce is free for residents and made affordable for other community members. In addition, ReVision Urban Farm provides information about healthy eating and sustainable farming, and offers job training for the youth and homeless in the community. The farm is shaped by three main goals: “small-scale, green, economic development; community food security and job training and education.”
9. The Urban Farming Institute of Boston’s mission is “to contribute to healthy people and sustainable cities by promoting and creating self-sustaining urban farming enterprises and farming jobs.” The institute does so by creating farms, providing farmer training, promoting public education and policy change, and bringing people in urban neighborhoods closer to food production.
10. Urban Hydr-“O”-Farmers is a group high school students enrolled in the Hydroponics track of Boston College’s College Bound Program. They grow food hydroponically–without soil–in a small greenhouse on Boston College’s campus, enabling them to grow year-round, and sell the produce at farmer’s markets in Boston.