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Today Growing Business host Aaron Niederhelman, along with co-host Lindsay Poole, talk with Jessie Banhazl, founder of the Green City Growers. Green City Growers is a framing initiative program, focusing on educating the public and helping to bring farming into urban areas.
Green City Growers is very active in the farming industry. They began in 2008 and now have farms on the rooftops of over 120 buildings in the greater Boston area. They install and help maintain rooftop farms both personal residences and businesses. They recently partnered with Be Good restaurant.
Green City Growers takes pride in teaching children about farming and the art of growing food. Right now they are working with the town of Beverley, MA and have installed gardens at every elementary school in that town. Every third grader is introduced to science and healthy eating through a fun and hands on approach. Jessie talks about the importance of getting kids involved to teach them about what they are eating and where their food comes from. She feels that there needs to be more transparency in the better food movement and it all starts with education.
Jessie attended Smith College in Northampton MA., despite being in a very agricultural area, it was not here that Jessie found her passion for farming. Jessie says that she majored in sociology, but she had always had a love for food since she was young. After graduating she moved to New York, taking a job with the Food Network. She quickly realized however that reality TV was not her calling and she moved back to the Massachusetts area to reconnect with the environment. It was here that she found she could have a career working with food and doing what she loved. Jessie says it is important to understand that farming can be learned quickly and that anyone can pick it up.
During the interview, Jessie also talks about the return on investment of many of these farming projects and why it can be so difficult to figure out. She says it’s not always easy to see immediately. There are often many variables that makes it hard to calculate. In addition much of the return on investment is long term value, for example health benefits. It usually takes about 5-7 years to see the return on investment like Green City Growers.
Jessie is excited about the future of Green City Growers. As a Mass Challenge finalist, they are now focused on having gardens on commercial and larger scale buildings. The bigger the building the more space to grow and therefore the more food. This is an exciting time for Jessie and Green City Growers and we are excited to watch them grow.