Boston Medical Center winds down inaugural rooftop farm season

Boston Medical Center winds down inaugural rooftop farm season

Children in the Boston Medical Center’s Summer Culinary Camp harvest produce on the BMC’s green roof. Photo courtesy of Matt Morris/Boston Medical Center

The Boston Medical Center, Boston University’s affiliated teaching hospital, is winding down its first growing season on the center’s new rooftop farm with thousands of pounds of fresh, farmed produce.

Timothy Viall, a spokesperson for the Boston Medical Center, said the farm is the first hospital-based farm in Massachusetts, and it was established to provide healthy and fresh food to patients and the local community, reports the Daily Free Press.

“The goal of BMC’s rooftop farm is to provide fresh, local produce to as many of our patients, employees and community members as possible,” Viall said. “This initiative also supports BMC’s mission to address social determinants of health by improving access to healthy fruits and vegetables.”

Viall said the farm has harvested 4,614 pounds of crops, including green beans, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, scallions, squash, and tomatoes. That number is expected to exceed 5,000 pounds by early November, according to Viall.

BMC’s Preventive Food Pantry, which works to address nutrition-related illness and malnutrition for its low-income patients, has received approximately half of all the produce grown on the farm to date with the hospital’s kitchens receiving the other half, Viall said.

BMC worked with local organizations to make the dream of the rooftop farm a reality. Higher Ground Farm is managing the growing while Recover Green Roofs, a Somerville-based organization, worked with BMC to design and install the farm, according to Viall.

Serena Galleshaw, a representative from Recover Green Roofs, wrote that the BMC’s rooftop farm is the organization’s “most efficient farming system to date.”

Galleshaw explained Recover Green Roofs’ role in the creation of the BMC rooftop farm.

“Recover Green Roofs designed the farm and irrigation systems to provide maximum growth potential for the size and scale of the roof,” Galleshaw wrote in an email. “Beyond construction, Recover’s role is to manage and maintain irrigation and system components over time.”

The organization prides itself on constructing the largest rooftop farm in Boston, according to Galleshaw, and the first rooftop farm on top of a hospital.

Keeping with the idea of community farming, several of the farm’s volunteers are local community members or students studying in Boston.

Several Boston University students said they thought the rooftop farm was a great way to provide healthy, organic food to patients and reduce the BMC’s environmental impact.

Justin Luu, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said he appreciates the concept and thinks it contributes to the notion of personal as well as environmental responsibility.

“That’s a good way to be healthy for nature and sustainability,” Luu said.  “Having green food helps with the climate and with what people view as what’s good for the environment. If it’s not too costly, it would be good for it to spread.”

Grace Yang, a CAS junior, said she sees the sustainability of the farm as a step in the right direction.

“Resources are the biggest issue in this world,” Yang said. “We’re trying to use our resources to the most that we can. Obviously, there is an uneven distribution of wealth. Of all the things we put our money and time towards, this is the kind of thing that benefits the most people.”


Topics: Architectural Firms, Building Owners and Managers, Construction Firms, Engineering Firms, Environmental Firms, Green Roofs / Garden Roofs, Healthcare - Hospitals & Medical Facilities, Sustainable Communities, Urban Planning and Design

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