Help City Growers Bring Urban Farming to Roxbury
Urban farming in Boston is magical. There are tomatoes growing on top of a downtown parking garage. The second-largest rooftop farm in the world is at the Design Center. And recently, Mayor Tom Menino proposed new zoning laws to make urban farming in Boston more accessible than ever.
Margaret Connors, a Jamaica Plain resident and cofounder of City Growers, is on a mission to not only bring urban farming to Boston, but to bring something even more important: jobs. City Growers converts urban lots into sustainable farms. The company currently has four urban farms, three in Dorchester and one in Roxbury. They hire locals to help tend the land and even do labor for food exchanges. “City growers started four years ago with a concept to make use of vacant land in the city of Boston,” Connors says. “There are 800 acres of vacant lots.”
City Growers is looking to add a fifth farm to their inventory, a quarter-acre lot in Roxbury through a Kickstarter campaign, where the company will cultivate nutrient-rich greens to sell to local markets and restaurants. They grow what Connors calls “hyperlocal produce” which is currently delivered to restaurants and local grocery stores in Jamaica Plain, Cambridge, the South End, downtown Boston, and Roxbury.
The Kickstarter campaign has seven days left and City Growers is close, but not quite at their $15,000 goal just yet. If funded, the project will do more than just grow lettuce in a lot. City Growers provides educational programs and training on how to grow food in urban environments. “Its economic development,” Connors says. “We are training urban growers. We aren’t hiring from Ohio, we hire within the community and we have a training program at the Urban Farming Institute.”
Right now, Connors says the demand is for lettuce. “The demand is mixed greens, so we sell to restaurants,” Connors says. If you’ve ever eaten at or bought food from Tremont 647, Haley House, City Feed & Supply, Foodies, Centre Street Cafe, and Sherman’s Market, then you’ve already tasted their produce. Eventually City Growers would like to sell at farmer’s markets. “We want to sell at markets, and we want to have a CSA,” Connors says. “We want to source out product to Boston Public Schools, but we need the Kickstarter to grow.”
With seven days and around $3500 left to raise, Connors says that it is “a labor of love”, but she is hopeful that the Kickstarter campaign can help City Growers get the resources they need to turn another vacated lot and eye sore into a beautiful farm filled with healthy produce that can add jobs to the neighborhoods that need them most.