Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) and run by The Food Project (TFP), the greenhouse represents a true partnership to improve the health and community life of the neighborhood.The Dudley Greenhouse is a 10,000-square-foot operational greenhouse located on Brook Avenue in Roxbury that functions as a community space and year-round learning center for local residents and gardeners. Owned by the
In 2004, DSNI acquired the site of the abandoned Brook Avenue Garage from the Dudley Neighbors, Inc., a community land trust. After years underneath an automotive garage, the soil at the site was contaminated and unsuitable for housing. As a result, DSNI built a greenhouse to facilitate local food production and fulfill the needs of the neighborhood and the community. In 2010, they partnered with The Food Project to realize this goal.
The Food Project and its community partners grow vegetables and herbs in raised beds inside the greenhouse. Two 3,000-gallon tanks collect rainwater that is used to irrigate the crops. The greenhouse is minimally heated, and relies mainly on passive solar gain during the day to warm the plants. A high-efficiency radiant heating system provides additional heat on cloudy days and winter nights.
Half of the greenhouse is designated for enterprise, in which The Food Project grows produce to sell at market rate to local restaurants. These beds produce greens in the fall and winter and tomatoes in the spring and early summer. The profits from these sales provide much of the revenue that supports the other half of the greenhouse, called the Community Bay.
The Community Bay features 27 raised beds in which community groups and local gardeners grow produce for themselves and their neighbors. Growers in the greenhouse come for a variety of reasons, from interest in learning to grow their own food and discussing food justice and healthy eating to growing traditional crops to keep their cultures alive and producing food to help others in their communities. Local gardeners, schools, health centers, and refugee groups have learned and grown in the Community Bay.
The Community Bay also features a large space dedicated to seedling production. Over 3,000 seedlings are produced each year in the Dudley Greenhouse by The Food Project and its community partners. Some of these seedlings are planted at The Food Project's farms in Dorchester. Others are distributed to participants in TFP's Build-a-Garden program or sold to local gardeners at plants sales in the spring. Still others are distributed by community groups to their constituents.
The Dudley Greenhouse has also become a year-round training center and the home base of The Food Project's "Grow Well, Eat Well, Be Well" initiative. This initiative is designed to improve the overall health of the community, and was formed based on needs expressed by local residents. The "Grow Well" portion comprises a series of workshops that focus on growing food in container gardens. Workshops feature topics like planting, starting seeds, pest and disease control, and harvesting. The "Eat Well" portion aims to both help community members learn about new cuisines and cooking methods and celebrate and keep alive their own food cultures. These workshops range from cooking classes about a particular cuisine to classes highlighting the various cultural uses of a certain food item. The "Be Well" portion embodies the hope that the greenhouse will be a space for the community to truly come together, and includes various health- and community-building workshops. Growing food and attending open workshops together in the greenhouse give community members the opportunity to build closer bonds and learn about each other in a relaxed and productive environment.
Since the Dudley Greenhouse is meant to be truly a community space, its activities are guided by an advisory council made up of Dudley community members. The ten-member Greenhouse Community Advisory Council meets every two months to discuss and evaluate the activities and direction of the greenhouse. This council comprises neighborhood residents and gardeners who have thought extensively about the goals of the agriculture and educational programming in the greenhouse and the values that the greenhouse should reflect to the community. The council plans and approves programming, chooses community groups to participate in these programs, and evaluates the success and effects of the work done in the greenhouse.
Check out our Events page to see upcoming events at the Dudley Greenhouse. Read our Greenhouse Blog to learn about recent events. For more information about the Dudley Greenhouse, please contact Community Food Coordinator Danielle Andrews.