Business Trends: Hyper-Local Foods

From April to November, farmers drive into Boston from the rural fields of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, flooding the farmers’ markets and restaurants with fresh local produce. Given that most food travels an average of 1,500 miles from the farm to the plate, this is a welcome improvement; reducing this number to less than 100 miles.

For some locavores, this isn’t good enough. They want their food sourced even closer. Chefs like Chris Coombs at dbar are building rooftop gardens. Urban planners like Glynn Lloyd at City Growers are converting vacant lots into urban farms.

Roof top gardens offer several advantages beyond fresh, hyper-local produce. These green spaces can reduce a building’s energy cost by insulating the roof. And they are perfectly situated to take advantage of natural resources: rain and sun. With the additional installation of a greenhouse, urban gardeners can grow year-round.

As easy as it may seem to build a rooftop garden by installing several raised beds and planters, you must considered the engineering impact on the building – that is, can the roof support not only the extra weight of the soil, but also the rain water the soil absorbs.

Urban, land-farms are easier to implement than roof-top gardens, but also have a few challenges: mainly in the soil health. City soil can be filled with lead and other toxins. Before starting an urban farm, be sure to test your soil. Chances are good you will need to amend the soil for safe gardening.

Several entrepreneurs are making urban farming even easier for the uber-locavore:

For roof-top gardens, Top Sprouts and Sky Vegetables 

For urban, land gardens: Green City Growers

For further assistance in developing your urban garden, send us an email. We can help you create a business plan to support this venture.

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