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Farm to sprout on a Mattapan street

Rendering of proposed Flint Street farm

Rendering of proposed Flint Street farm from filing with BPDA.

The Urban Farming Institute of Boston is getting ready to break ground on quarter-acre farm on Flint Street in Mattapan, behind the Wave gas station.

The institute will use $135,000 in city funds - allocated from the revenue from the Community Preservation Act surcharge on local property taxes - for a permanent farm that will train local residents in urban farming - and to develop better techniques for urban farming - while adding a new source of fresh food to the area.

The institute has used the site for a couple of years for several temporary raised beds in which to grow vegetables. The city money will help pay to clear the entire site of poison ivy and ready it for more permanent cultivation.

The new farm will be a couple blocks from the institute's Fowler Clark Epstein Farm on Norfolk Street.

More details and schematics (10.7M PDF).

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Comments

It's cheaper than going to the Star Market or wherever, plus it's easier to get access to.

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It's cheaper than going to the Star Market or wherever

Someone please run the numbers.

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Learning to have your own garden is much cheaper than going to the supermarket.

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The Greater Boston Food Bank says that it can buy 300 meals for $100. By this same math, just the $135,000 the city is paying to restore the park (let alone the opportunity cost of selling it, which would almost certainly have been more) could buy over 400,000 meals. It's hard to imagine this farm generating even a fraction of that number of meals over the course of its entire existence.

On the flip side, even using the most charitable numbers possible(From Frances Moore's Diet for a Small Planet), it requires about 1/6th of an acre to feed one person an all-vegan diet for one year. That means a farm the size of this one (1/4 acre) could feed 1.5 people. And that's with ideal growing conditions, not the 5 month growing season we have here in New England.

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Greenspace reduces the cooling load in the neighborhood.

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... but education. We also need more unpaved, undeveloped land to offset the damage we've done to our groundwater. Overall, this is a good use of the property.

Sidenote: the cost of raising food vs grocery pricing has been addressed on UHub at length, in the past, and I'm not going to rehash it all here.
But, briefly, both wholesale and retail food prices do not reflect the real cost of raising &/or growing our food, and that's ultimately good: the US would have a starvation and malnutrition problem if pricing were not controlled and if production not subsidized.
No one alive today has paid the actual production price for a cart of groceries. That gives us a skewed idea of what it costs to produce that food in the first place.

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mplo did say it would be cheaper than Star Market.

I mean, I find the idea of growing one's own food (or at least a portion thereof) to be great. I'm letting raspberries overgrow my day lilies for this reason. But were I to do it right, I would not be competitive with any retail. I would just have the satisfaction of growing it on my own.

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To really make this argument you have to consider the relative ecological footprints of other uses of this land. If you don't allow housing to be built here, at means additional housing must be built elsewhere, and that typically means out in the suburbs where new land needs to be cleared to build housing and most mobility happens by driving. You'll put a much bigger dent in our groundwater issues by reducing the overall footprint of the city than you will by forcing the 30+ people that could potentially live on this site to build houses in the suburbs instead.

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Or "process donations of processed food into" 30 bags with 10 meals in them for $100.

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Locally sourced organic food may taste better, be more nutritious, and be better for the environment but I don’t think it is sustainable unless we plan on culling the world’s human population, which will double in 20 years. If not, then we will need more production - larger factory farms that produce more using less land, larger distribution channels which can reach even the parts of the world that do not produce much food - probably also need more of the things that will ensure crops are not lost, like pesticides, hormones and antibiotics for livestock, and GMOs.

Adam and I are liberals so we like locally sourced organic but even I know that you can’t turn the world into a bunch of organized hippie communes.

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The Greater Boston Food Bank says that it can buy 300 meals for $100. By this same math, just the $135,000 the city is paying to restore the park (let alone the opportunity cost of selling it, which would almost certainly have been more) could buy over 400,000 meals. It's hard to imagine this farm generating even a fraction of that number of meals over the course of its entire existence.

It's not always about the money. Maybe you responded as such because someone said growing is cheaper, and I have no idea what the numbers say. Maybe, it's just nice to have a plot of valuable city land that isn't taken by housing or commercial use, but rather, is a place where something productive is accomplished. Face it, it's tough to get a piece of land where people can grow their food, and having the city provide the space is no different than providing a park, a play area, a dog park, or any other public space.

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having the city provide the space is no different than providing a park, a play area, a dog park, or any other public space.

The difference is in how many people can benefit. Hundreds of surrounding residents can make use of a good park or playground every day. An urban farm benefits, at most, maybe a few dozen lucky people for a few months out of the year when food is actually available, and maybe benefits a dozen or so more in terms of the opportunity to work on a farm (which is, lets face it, one of the lowest paying forms of labor that exists in the United States).

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Residents: Oh no, we can't afford to live in our neighborhoods.

City: I know, we'll build a garden next to a T stop to better offset the shortage of affordable housing

Surprised the Readville micro green grifters aren't in on this with their hands out.

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A lot of those "it's cheaper to make it yourself" claims are only true if you value your own time at zero. That doesn't mean you shouldn't grow your own lettuce, do your own baking, or knit socks for yourself--it means that, in the current economic system, working overtime and buying lettuce would leave you with more money and the same amount of lettuce as growing your own, even if you have garden space.

I grew lettuce when I had room to garden a couple of years ago. It wasn't to save money: I did it because I enjoyed gardening, both the actual planting and harvesting (weeding, less so) and seeing the garden when I looked out the window, and because I liked having salad that fresh.

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Fill that brick brutalist wasteland with some greens.

With a little planning we could retrofit gardens on the rooftop and along City Hall which would help with climate control of the building itself as well as an oasis within an otherwise bleak empty brickyard.

Unfortunately for the private developer overlords that run this town its not a very lucrative proposition.

Maybe if we all petitioned the benevolent executives at GE for a couple shrubs?

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When he was a city councilor, Freddy Langone raised tomatoes on a fifth-floor balcony.

And today, if you go up to eighth floor, you'll see the outdoor patio is lined with planters (and, yes, plants).

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City Hall does have demonstration Green Roof Gardens on the 8th and 9th floor terraces.
We have a herb and vegetable container garden on the 9th floor terrace.
We have a group of volunteers who maintain it.
We would love to have rooftop gardens on the rooftop.
That would take planning and investment.
Please stop by to enjoy City Hall's Green Roof Gardens on the 8th and 9th floors when you are in the area. It is a quiet, peaceful space.

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Lol, thats not really what I meant.

Check out the interior and exterior gardens of the Barbican Estate for some surprisingly green brutalist examples.

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They should get goats to clear out the poison ivy.

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With a pair of chickens and a goat, you’ll provide a steady supply of eggs, milk, and protein to feed children and help families. We’ve paired our most popular animals so you can give 2 or more struggling families a gift they’ll never forget. -- worldvision.org

A goat and chicken farm on this land would be more bountiful. The international charities claim one goat and two chickens can feed two families, although family size isn't mentioned. One goat produces a gallon of delicious, easy to digest milk per day. A chicken produces one egg a day. Get 100 chickens and 50 goats, then provide the milk and eggs to those who volunteer. Hay (good for both) could be made with clippings from city parks and landscapers. Both animals also eat garbage that city restaurants would be happy to get rid of. Goat and chicken meat are two of the most consumed meats in the world, especially in ethnic neighborhoods and college towns. Throw in a llama who will protect goats and chickens from coyotes and other predators. Ernie Boch Jr. might give a llama, I think he has a herd of them. In fact, he might endow the whole thing as a write off.

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...would belittle and apply snark to something like this. Truly a wretched person.

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Um ... did you mean to reply to a different comment ?, because not only was Ofishl's comment not particularly wretched, it was probably the soundest agricultural advice I've seen ITT.

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Love this! Here's hoping for more support for urban farming / pro-environment / pro-locally-sourced food, and less opposition from the anti-nimby/ pro-density / build baby build crowd!

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Good news. So pleased to see projects like this becoming reality.

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