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Whole Foods Market, Lynnfield: The Rooftop Farming Movement

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Living in a metropolitan city like Boston, many people don’t reside in areas that have immediate access to garden space and if they do, it’s in a place with contaminated soil that makes growing difficult and unsafe. More and more gardens have been popping up in unused area around the city, from alleyways to rooftops. Now imagine if these gardens not only beautified the city, but provided another essential use; imagine they provided an access to locally grown vegetables too!

This is exactly what Whole Foods is doing in Lynnfield, Massachusetts with the help of Green City Growers and Recover Green Roofs. Now, the patrons at this supermarket have the option to purchase their “regular” produce, or produce that was grown locally… so local in fact, it is actually grown on the roof above their heads! Completed in August, Whole Foods Lynnfield opened to the public, offering them raw produce and prepared foods made from the fruits and vegetables grown on the 17,000 square foot organic farm constructed and managed by us at Green City Growers.

I was lucky enough to not only go on the roof and visit the farm; I spent the day actually farming and working and I was able see what the day-to-day management was like. There were probably two things I took away from this experience: one, there were so many different crops and each one needed its own special method of care and two, the sun gold cherry tomatoes are really good!  All the crops are managed organically, so a lot of the nutrient additions include fish emulsion, which is not fun to get on your hands. The experience was like stepping into the future, yet ironically it connected me to my roots (pun intended.)

Generally speaking, most people who live in urban and even suburban areas are so disconnected from where their food comes from and how much effort actually goes into growing and transporting the food they eat. This farm on top of Whole Foods provides the public with tasty, organic food and it supports a very important mission that Green City Growers considers essential. This farm transforms unused space into a thriving urban farm and provides clients with immediate access to food.

The key idea here is sustainability. As cities grow and green spaces dwindle, it is super important to use all our resources to build a system that can sustain itself rather than outsource and depend on others. Unused space is just that, unused. Transforming vacant areas to thriving gardens is sustainability. It is so great to see it has started and I’m hopeful this is just a spark that ignites a movement.

By: Dan Chamberlain, Business Development Intern


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