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As a GCG marketing intern, one of the many perks of the job is getting to experience the various tasks of Green City Growers Employees. Last month I had the great fortune of getting to tag along with Laura, GCG’s Director of Horticulture and Lead Farmer. On that particular day, she was driving up to Lynnfield, MA with GCG’s farming intern to work on the rooftop farm at Whole Foods.
After hearing about this rooftop farm for months, I couldn’t wait to see it with my own eyes. As the biggest rooftop farm in New England, it would be an impressive site to experience, let alone harvest from. As we pulled up, it started to turn into an unusually warm day for the changing season. The sun peaked through the rain clouds as we climbed up the stairs and opened the door out to the garden. What I saw then was truly remarkable. The garden was not only an impressive size, but was full of produce even at the end of the Massachusetts growing season.
We started by harvesting the carrots, pulling up large shoots of bright-orange fresh-vegetable goodness. They smelled so sweet and delicious, and with only feet to travel to their store location I couldn’t imagine a more tempting carrot to buy. There is nothing like fresh produce, especially ones with zero food miles! We then moved on to the radishes, making each bunch contain an assortment of the beautiful colors of pink, purple and white that popped next to the brown soil. The kale harvest was to follow, picking leaves one by one and checking each to make sure they were aphid free. We finished by harvesting the rest of the peppers, red and orange, in probably the last pepper harvest of the season.
With each crop we harvested, there were inevitably the ‘ugly vegetables’ that got picked. The stubby carrot, the cracked radish, the too tiny kale leaf… yet the exciting thing is that these did not have to meet the compost heap as their fate. While composting is a great thing unto itself, this still edible food could be used right away in the kitchens of Whole Foods. It went right into the meals the chefs at the market created, enabling them to save food waste as well as use the freshest produce possible.
I had a great time up there on the Whole Foods Farm on the roof. It felt so good to be part of this hyper-local movement, knowing the food I picked was going to be sold right beneath my feet. It was amazing to see all that produce growing up there, and look around at all the other empty roofs imagining what could someday be. How many rooftop gardens will our future hold? Will yours be one of them? Maybe one day all roofs will grow at least a little something green.
By – Hannah Kitchel