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Gardeners Plant Seeds of Community

Dudley greenhouse sits ready for City Farm Fest. Community beds can be seen in background.
Dudley greenhouse sits ready for City Farm Fest. Community beds can be seen in background.
“Now I know why vegetables are so expensive….oh, and I have NO idea what I’m doing!” So said one of the greenhouse gardeners as she passed by me on her way out, having just prepped her bed and planted it with broccoli, kale, and culantro (an herb closely related to cilantro).

In the past two weeks the greenhouse has welcomed 27 new gardeners and their families into the space. Most are from the Dudley neighborhood, and many have children they bring to the greenhouse to help with their plots. Most are brand-new gardeners: eager to learn how to plant and care for vegetables and herbs.

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Mayor Menino Opens Greenhouse

Food Project Intern Mayra Class shows Mayor Menino how to hand-pollinate greenhouse tomatoes. (Photo courtesy of Isabel Leon)
Food Project Intern Mayra Class shows Mayor Menino how to hand-pollinate greenhouse tomatoes. (Photo courtesy of Isabel Leon)
Neighbors, friends, and supporters gathered at the official opening of the Dudley Greenhouse. The event, which took place on May 11, featured Mayor Menino, whose remarks applauded the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) and The Food Project for working to bring this important resource to the community.

“Not too long ago, this site where we’re standing was a garage; it was an eyesore and a blight on the neighborhood,” Menino said. “Now it is an agricultural oasis, where residents can learn how to grow their own vegetables, and where fresh, affordable produce will be grown for the city’s farmers’ markets and food banks.”

Besides the mayor, other speakers at the opening included John Barros of DSNI, Margaret Williams of TFP, and community member Sandra Mitchell, who spoke eloquently about what the greenhouse means to her, her family, and the neighborhood.

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Community Turns Out to Raise a Greenhouse

A sea of green: tomato plants rise up along trellis lines held aloft by rollerhooks.
A sea of green: tomato plants rise up along trellis lines held aloft by rollerhooks.
This past Friday morning was a busy one. As volunteers helped me finish trellising our tomato plants onto overhead lines, the head of construction from Griffin Greenhouse was working out the last of the kinks in our control systems. My ag scout was checking on the work of our newest staff: the parasitic wasps that are busily mummifying the aphids in the greenhouse while other volunteers made their way through the trellised rows, pollinating the flowers with hand-held pollinators.

As we finished up the morning, I felt a huge wave of relief. The last three weeks have been hectic and hard, and it's only through the rallying efforts of many that we now have a greenhouse full of rapidly growing, beautiful plants that will soon be bearing fruit.

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Greens and Tomatoes and Restaurants, Oh My!

Winter greens in Roxbury, February 2011.
Winter greens in Roxbury, February 2011.
For the past six weeks, our Dudley Greenhouse was a sea of winter greens. While the construction schedule was delayed and our greens were only seeded the first week of January, we were pleased that the harvest began a month later, and produced an abundance of delicate salad greens and crunchy spinach.

The winter months have been hectic, but despite the stresses of finishing construction (and tinkering with controls that are finally close to functioning correctly!), it has certainly been a remarkable privilege to be harvesting greens while the wild winter storms of this past season raged outside. One happy customer emailed to thank me for the bag of “silken spring” – a phrase that I have adopted to describe my salads at home!

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A Community Garden Under Glass

Neighbors of Roxbury, Mattapan and Dorchester - come grow with us this summer!

Greenhouse Community Garden Flyer - Post this on a local bulletin board...
Greenhouse Community Garden Application - Fill it out and send it back!

The Food Project is pleased to be able to open up our Greenhouse this spring and summer to local residents to grow food for their families in a temporary indoor community garden! As we firm up our plans for our long-term use of the community bays of the greenhouse, we are happy to be able to offer up the space to neighborhood residents for food production this year. For $25, you can have your own 4'x8' raised bed in which to grow short and medium-height plants such as salad greens, collards, broccoli, and summer squash as well as access to a communal bed that  will produce an abundance of tall heat-loving crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, okra and more!

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