Boston Medical Center urban farm serving up veggies to patients

BOSTON — On top of the industrial, mammoth Boston Medical Center power plant building sits an urban oasis.

Row after row after row of fresh vegetables span the Albany Street building roof.

For BMC, the rooftop farm not only promotes the healthy lifestyle its doctors want their patients to lead, but it helps feed patients in need.

"We thought it'd be a great idea to have local and healthy food," said David Maffeo, senior director of Support Srvices at BMC. He was one of the people who came up with the idea of the garden.

The vegetables go directly to the hospital's food pantry and demonstration kitchen, as well as to the hospital's cafeterias and inpatient population.

"Diabetes patients, cancer patients, weight management patients, renal patients. We're coming up here first and picking the food that we're using in our classes," said Tracey Burg, chief dietician at BMC.

This past June, BMC reported that about 1,800 pounds of fresh veggies and fruits were harvested from the roof. By the end of growing season it's predicted that 15,000 pounds of food will be harvested.

It first opened last summer as the first hospital-based rooftop farm in the state. Altogether, there is 7,000 square feet of growing space, along with two urban beehives.

Higher Ground Farm runs the garden, along with the farm on the Boston Design Center roof in the Seaport.

"I just didn't believe that we could grow as much food as we can and we've just grown this amazing amount of food so far. It's definitely blowing my expectations of what we could do with it," said Lindsay Allen, the farm manager.

In addition to the veggies, the garden reduces the hospital's need to transport food and also provides employees with volunteer opportunities

BMC has been working to become greener and in recent years has been recognized as one of the greenest hospitals in the U.S.