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Title: Co-founder, CEO
Company: Green City Growers
Education: Bachelor’s degree in sociology and art, Smith College, 2006
Residence: Union Square in Somerville
Favorite vacation spot: Provincetown, Mass.
Unusual talent: Gardening in heels
Favorite book: “Watchmen,” by Alan Moore
Favorite movies: “The Big Lebowski”
Musical artist: Little Dragon
Motto to live by: Don’t sweat the small stuff.
With Green City Growers — her four-year-old business that installs and maintains vegetable gardens throughout Greater Boston — Jessie Banhazl has blossomed into a major voice in the local urban agriculture movement.
Her interest in healthier foods began to take root when Banhazl lived for a time, post-college, in New York City, where she worked as a freelancer in television production for such reality fare as “Wife Swap” and “The Hills.”
“I really felt there was a lack of access to healthy food, and that I was being priced out of it,” she said.
Ultimately, she returned to the Boston area, where in 2008, she heeded a call from a college friend, Gabriel Erde-Cohen (who left the business a short time after its launch) to exercise her creative skills in a new arena by co-founding Green City Growers. To date, the company has installed more than 350 gardens and currently maintains 75 individual sites in Greater Boston. Banhazl has led the expansion of the company’s “backyard farming” concept beyond homeowners to incorporate programs for diverse markets including educational, corporate wellness, eldercare and restaurants — as well as rooftoop farming. “It’s such a rewarding experience to put seeds in the ground and come back a week later and see them grow; to see your work pay off — literally in food,” she said. “This is not just a business to me, it’s also a social venture.”
Banhazl has also served as a consultant for the city of Boston and the city of Somerville in redrafting their urban agriculture zoning regulations, and she sits on the board of the Ecological Landscaping Association. By the way, her own personal favorite vegetables are Swiss chard and hot peppers.