Getting Fresh: Higher Ground Farm to Open at Boston Design Center

City farming goes to a whole new level.

higher ground farm

Illustration by Dahl Taylor

Starting this month, you’ll have a new reason to visit South Boston: the Higher Ground Farm, which will open on the roof of the Boston Design Center. Rooftop farms have been sprouting up in urban areas everywhere, and Higher Ground may be one of the most ambitious projects to date. Spread out over some 55,000 square feet, it will be the second-largest open-air rooftop farm in the world, and the first commercial one in Boston. (For some perspective, a football field is 57,600 square feet.) Courtney Hennessey and John Stoddard, both former Boston chefs, have spent the past two years planning and fundraising for the farm. Here’s a guide to what it will involve.

Where the Food Will Go

Higher Ground Farm plans to grow 50,000 or so pounds of fruits and vegetables each year, in a growing season that will last from May through November. Using bikes, Hennessey and Stoddard will deliver their produce daily to restaurants around town. Eight have already signed up for deliveries, including Sweet Cheeks, Toro, Coppa, and Tavern Road. The farm will also have its own stand at the Design Center and will sell produce through a CSA program next year. Eventually, it will serve disadvantaged neighborhoods and food pantries, too.

Benefits of a Rooftop Farm

WATER › Rooftop farms and gardens are designed to absorb water and eliminate runoff. Depending on rainfall levels, Higher Ground may require no city water to irrigate its crops.

ENERGY › During cold months, green roofs retain heat and act as insulators for buildings, and can reduce a building’s energy use by as much as 30 percent. When it’s hot out, they stay much cooler than black roofs, significantly reducing air-conditioning costs and CO2 emissions.

ATMOSPHERE › Green roofs can reduce air pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions. Although a single roof will mainly benefit the building and its occupants, community-wide green-roof installations could reduce summer temperatures in the city, cutting cooling costs on a larger scale.