Field Report: 51 Lincoln's Rooftop Garden

As many urban dwellers know, you don’t need land to produce a summer’s worth of fresh veggies; all you need is access to a roof. And at 51 Lincoln, chef Jeff Fournier just got his. Fournier recently installed a set of stairs leading to the black-top roof of his four-year-old restaurant in Newton Highlands, where he has the equivalent of an entire backyard. This spring, he’s planted his first crops (arugula, spinach, white-tip radishes, Tuscan kale, purple basil, Swiss chard, and mustard greens) all of which will appear on his menu over the course of the next few months. With little more than a dozen kiddie pools, a timer-set irrigation system he purchased online, and a few tips he picked up growing strawberries as a kid in Amesbury, he’s created his own rooftop garden that will eventually produce a very special treat for 51 Lincoln guests.

“These will be really special items so the spinach, for example, might show up on a salad this summer for one day… and that will be it,” says Fournier, adding, “our regulars will come looking for it.” By constantly replanting the tubs, Fournier hopes his harvest will make frequent appearances throughout the summer season.

While the garden awaits a stint of sunshine, the kitchen is preparing for what should be a bountiful summer: Fournier is adding a half dozen more kiddie pools, which he’ll fill with more greens, as well as several more tubs where he’ll plant green beans and peas (his sous chef, Max Burns, will be in charge of those plants, calling himself “the bean guy”). The tomato tubs are already filled with soil — Fournier’s just waiting for a sunny day to plant the cherry and grape tomato seeds he purchased from Allandale Farms.

No stranger to rooftop gardening, Fournier sees the project as a natural extension of what he and his team do in the kitchen. “It’s all logistics. We measure everything in terms of time,” he says. “Now all we need is the sun to cooperate.”

51 Lincoln St., Newton Highlands, 617-965-3100,