Companies cultivating urban-farming initiatives in Boston
Urban farming fits into a broader vision by Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s office that would ensure access to healthy, local, nutritious food at fair prices for all Bostonians.
By Patricia Harris and David Lyon
The Boston Globe
Feb 1, 2013
Glynn Lloyd, CEO of Roxbury-based City Fresh Foods catering company, had an epiphany a couple of years back. “I was standing in the kitchen at City Fresh and realized that we were buying all this lettuce from California and paying a pretty good dollar for it,” he recalls. “Then I was driving up Harold Street [in Roxbury] and I just noticed vacant lot, vacant lot, vacant lot, vacant lot. I said, ‘We are going to get land and start growing food.’?”
He was hardly the only one with that idea. Margaret Connors, a public-school wellness coordinator, was concerned that school meals had so little local food. She met Lloyd when City Fresh catered meals after her school’s kitchen broke down. They started talking, and together they hatched a for-profit, urban-farming company dedicated to providing farm-to-table produce, creating jobs, and bringing vacant neighborhood land back into productive use. They call it City Growers.
Now entering its fourth growing season, City Growers has partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural resources and the not-for-profit Urban Farming Institute of Boston to sponsor the first Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference at Roxbury Community College next Saturday. The conference will offer an update on city agriculture in the Bay State and lay out the opportunities and challenges of growing food in the city.
Urban farming is hardly a new concept. Farms persisted inside city limits around the country well into the 20th century. (The orchards of Roxbury were famous for developing the Roxbury Russet apple and introducing what became known as the Bartlett pear to the United States.) More recently, intensive growing on small plots — both in the ground and on rooftops — has flourished in municipalities as diverse as Milwaukee, Detroit, New York, and San Francisco.