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
Local

Hillary Clinton headed to Boston for women's leadership…

Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit Massachusetts Wednesday amid continuing speculation about making another bid for the presidency in 2016.

Local

The Boston Marathon: Step by step, the race…

For over a century, the Boston Marathon has been an event centered around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there’s no denying the face of the renowned race has been changed…

Local

Boston Marathon: Marathoners ready to run, honor victims

Scores of runners will cross the Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton Monday and embark on a 26.2-mile journey to Boston in honor of the victims.

Local

MIT student, Rhodes scholar, dies

Eliana Hechter, a student at MIT and Harvard, died, her family said. The announcement was posted on MIT's website.

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

Music

Loop are, er, um, back in the loop

Experimental noise rock band Loop's three mid-1980s to early-1990s albums, “Heavens End,” “Fade Out” and “A Gilded Eternity,” were mercifully reissued.

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.