With a New Rooftop Farm, Nutrition Is BMC’s Highest Priority

The farm will provide patients with fresh, healthy food.

BMC rooftop farm

BMC’s rooftop farm/Photo by Jamie Ducharme

With sterile white walls and foreboding exteriors, hospitals aren’t exactly known for their beauty. But to find an oasis at Boston Medical Center (BMC), all you have to do is look up.

This spring, BMC transformed the bleak rooftop of its power plant building into a verdant farm bursting with carrots, basil, zucchini, cucumbers, chard, and more. Just a few weeks into its inaugural growing season, the eco-friendly garden has already yielded 2,000 pounds of produce, with an estimated 13,000 more on the way.

“One of our long-term visions is to make Boston the healthiest urban population in the world, and we’ll do this through wellness and food,” says David Maffeo, BMC’s senior director of support services.

Crops from the farm, which was built in collaboration with Higher Ground Farm and Recover Green Roofs, will be used in the hospital’s cafeterias, as well as its Demonstration Kitchen and Preventive Food Pantry, a resource that gives in-need patients “prescriptions” for healthy food. Farm Manager Lindsay Allen says growing vegetables on-site will ensure that as many patients as possible have access to fresh, nutritious food.

“A lot of food pantries have potatoes, carrots, root vegetables,” she says. “We’re trying to get more of the fresh greens in there.”

The farm may be only a few months old, but those behind it already have their eyes on what’s next. Maffeo says he’d love to start a BMC farmers’ market someday, and Allen says she hopes to plant crops that appeal to a wide variety of cultures next season. There may even be more farms in BMC’s future, Allen says.

“I would love to see it expand,” she says. “I start looking at rooftops, and there’s so much possibility out there.”

Campers from the Culinary Summer Camp for Kids harvest crops/Photo by Jamie Ducharme

The farm also houses beehives for honey/Photo by Jamie Ducharme

BMC rooftop farm

A high-tech irrigation system optimizes water use/Photo by Jamie Ducharme