For Immediate Release
May 12, 2011
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office
Mayor Thomas M. Menino today hosted the grand opening of a 10,000 square-foot greenhouse in the heart of Roxbury that is creating jobs and bringing fresh, affordable produce to dinner tables in a neighborhood that has one of the highest obesity rates in Boston.
“Not too long ago, this site where we’re standing was a garage; it was an eyesore and a blight on the neighborhood,” Mayor Menino said during a visit to the Dudley Greenhouse at 11 Brook Avenue in Roxbury. “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.”
The yield is expected to range between 30,000 to 40,000 pounds a year, when the greenhouse is fully operational. Fifty percent of the spinach, tomatoes, salad greens and other fresh produce will be grown by local residents to take home to feed their families or will be sold at subsidized rates; the other half will be sold at market rate to provide revenue to support the greenhouse. The greenhouse also has a year-round training center where residents can learn food production and gardening techniques.
The opening of the greenhouse is the realization of a dream by its owners, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) and its neighborhood partner, The Food Project, helped along last year when the Boston Public Health Commission received $6.4 million in funding for obesity prevention efforts from the US Department of Health & Human Services’ Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) initiative. DSNI partnered with The Food Project to operate the greenhouse and Boston Public Health provided $600,000 to fund infrastructure upgrades and startup costs, and to construct 400 backyard raised gardens for low-income households in the neighborhood. The greenhouse renovation created 23 construction jobs and 30 jobs for youths and adults involved in its maintenance.
The project is the latest undertaking by Mayor Menino and Boston Public Health to reduce obesity. The city is also phasing out sugar-loaded beverages in municipal buildings, expanding neighborhood walking groups, providing subsidized gym memberships, integrating more physical activity into classes and other activities at Boston Public Schools, and launching New England’s first bike share program, which will put 600 bikes on the streets for residents and visitors to use in the city.
Many of the efforts, especially those aimed at improving access to healthy food, have been concentrated in Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester, which have higher rates of adult obesity – 40 percent, 33 percent, and 31 percent, respectively – and chronic disease than the city as a whole. These three neighborhoods comprise 34 percent of Boston’s population, and are home to 72 percent of black and 36 percent of Latino residents.
“This greenhouse is a tremendous community asset and we are proud to have played a role in bringing it to fruition,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “It will bolster healthy eating among low-income residents and increase physical activity through gardening, both prescriptions for reducing obesity.”
Margaret Williams, executive director of The Food Project, said the greenhouse will grow healthy fresh food year-round and that, “together with the backyard garden program, over 1,000 residents will have the opportunity to learn about and enjoy food that’s right from their neighborhood.” She added, “I thank the Mayor, Boston Public Health, and our partner, DSNI, for recognizing how growing fresh healthy food creates healthy communities.”
Over the past decade, the Dudley Neighbors, Inc., the Community Land Trust, and the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative have been working to transform the former site of the Brook Avenue Garage, an abandoned structure that had lain dormant for years, into the greenhouse.
“The greenhouse comes out of the rich agricultural tradition of the Roxbury Russet Apple and the Clapp and Bartlett pears,” said John Barros, DSNI’s executive director. “Dudley families have a strong tradition of using food as a way to build community, so we are excited about increasing access to locally grown organic food in our neighborhood. We are also excited to have Mayor Menino, the Boston Public Health Commission and The Food Project at our shared table.”