Food with a view: A look at Boston’s first rooftop farm

A rendering of the future Higher Ground Farm.
John Stoddard and Courtney Hennessey Owners of Higher Ground farm on the roof of the Boston Design Center. Photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki
John Stoddard and Courtney Hennessey Owners of Higher Ground farm on the roof of the Boston Design Center. Photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki

As Jamaica Plain residents Courtney Hennessey and John Stoddard sauntered around the roof of the Boston Design Center on a windy November morning, they had their eyes fixed on more than a breathtaking Boston skyline.

The site is future home to Higher Ground Farm, the city’s first rooftop farm, which will span across 55,000 square feet atop the famous Seaport District structure.

“I think the city wants this,” said Hennessey. “It’s already happening
in New York and Chicago. People really want to see something happen in
Boston”

“People want to know where their food is coming from,” Stoddard said. “We have an obesity epidemic, and there is a lot of talk around food right now. There is more information about the way our food is being produced.”

Recover Green Roofs, a Somerville company, is overseeing the project’s installation, which will likely begin this winter.

Once completed in the spring, it will be the second largest open-air commercial roof farm in the world, behind the 65,000-square foot Brooklyn Grange urban farm in New York.

The Boston Design Center was one of six buildings the pair considered before settling on the eight-story building, which had the perfect space, height and location for the project.

Julie Rogowski, vice president and general manager of the Boston Design Center, said the project fits with the center’s goal to showcase original design concepts. The clincher, however, was the opportunity to promote sustainability in the community.

“We have ample roof space that we are eager to see go green,” Rogowski said. “We are thrilled to be a part of this innovative plan and we look forward to enjoying the fruits – and vegetables – of Boston’s first rooftop farm.”

Hennessey and Stoddard expect to make their first harvest next fall, plucking a diverse selection of vegetables from the 10-inch-deep soil, with a concentration on tomatoes, herbs, and greens.

There is talk of a farm stand, a CSA program, and bike deliveries, but much like the soon-to-be farm, that is all up in the air.

“A lot of this will start to shake out as the business starts to unfold,” Stoddard said. “We call ourselves an urban agriculture company, so we’re focusing on starting this roof farm, but we’d like to expand as the business gets going.”

If all goes well, the pair may hire additional sets of hands, and hop to other roof tops.

In the meantime, city officials are on board with the plan.

“Higher Ground Farm is poised to do some really innovative work – getting food into the neighborhoods through corner stores, farmers’ markets, restaurants and CSAs,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. “They’ll be the first ‘green roof’ in Boston doing large-scale commercial agriculture. We commend them for being the first, and we know they won’t be the last.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

DA: Homeless man severely beat by men in…

Two former college football players pleaded not guilty to the alleged severe beating of a homeless man in Allston earlier this year.

National

Hamas, Abbas's PLO announce reconciliation agreement

The Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on Wednesday to a unity pact.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Going Out

Thursty: Revamped Audubon is back in action

Having been a long time fan of Trina's Starlite Lounge in Inman Square, one of my only complaints about the place is that there's only…

Entertainment

Here's what to do in Boston this weekend

MUSIC Huun Huur Tu Friday, 8 p.m. First Church in Cambridge 11 Garden St., Cambridge $28, 617-876-4275 www.worldmusic.org This group comes from the tiny nation…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox top Yankees, 5-1

John Lackey shines, Pineda ejected in Red Sox win

NHL

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston…

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston greedy for more dominance

MLB

Fantasy baseball: Searching for early season prospects

It’s relatively rare for a mediocre 30-year-old hitter to suddenly go nuts offensively for 162 games. That’s why minor league prospects are so exciting.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."