Imagine mini-Allandale Farms across Dorchester and Mattapan

The BRA and the Department of Neighborhood Development hold a meeting next week on a proposal to turn vacant lots owned by the city into urban farms to help increase the amount of "affordable, healthy food" available in the neighborhoods.

The Nov. 16 session, 6:30 p.m. at the Erie Ellington Community Center, 31 Erie St., will focus on possible agricultural rezoning of two specific parcels on Glenway and Standish streets, with a separate meeting in the works for three others:



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But what about all the lead

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But what about all the lead paint, coal ash, radon, oil, illegally dumped chemicals, etc. that are probably contaminating those lots?

Community Garden sites are usually chosen on sites which have been cleaned up. Is the city really going to pony up the cash right now to make sure these sites are safe for farming edible food? And honestly, cities AREN'T the best or most efficient places to farm 'healthy' foods because of air and water pollution. There's no way the tiny crop yields of these sites would do ANYTHING to drive the cost of fresh produce down. This seems more like chasing a fad than anything.

This is of course also taking not taking into account that the really unhealthy people this is aimed at helping are not buying healthy foods because of cost, but simply because they don't like healthy food to begin with. You don't ever see your average McDiet FastfoodKing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner crowd at Haymarket.

All misinformation and problems that have solutions

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The chemical problems you mention can be dealt with through phytoremediation, which is right in line with the idea of urban farming. Certain plants will absorb and sequester things like lead and cadmium in parts that you don't eat. Other plants release enzymes into the soil that break down oils and other problem chemicals. The plants themselves often solve a lot of what you're mentioning as contamination.

As far as pollution, half the problem is not having ENOUGH plants. Besides, Boston is hardly downtown Beijing when it comes to air and water pollution.

Crop yields are perfectly fine for the kind of neighborhood utility that they are intended for. The intent isn't to feed all of Dorchester from a single-lot farm. And while you're not going to change Shaw's produce pricing, the block of residents who put in the time and effort to help farm the land get the produce for free as a trade-off. Ask those people who are actually eating the farm's yields whether it affected their produce costs that year.

Finally, you're just completely off-base about people choosing to not eat healthy due to a dislike of healthy foods. Check out Jamie Oliver's work on getting communities to eat healthier. The problem isn't taste, it's perceived convenience. You can walk in and out of a McDonalds with your Mega Bad Meal in about 5 minutes. Very few places offer an equivalently healthy option in the same amount of time and in the same number of locations. You get used to a pattern of living unhealthy as the norm. If you are going to eat healthier on your own, then it takes a bit more time and preparation. You have to be convinced to move out of the easy, yet detrimental, state you have ended up in by relying on fast food as the norm. Wouldn't living next door to an urban farm be one of the easiest ways to reduce the preparation and effort needed to move towards living better? Also, once people are adjusted to quick and easy ways of eating healthier and to the forethought necessary to accomplish it, they often find *that* to be just as easy and convenient as walking into a McDonalds and don't look back. It's not a matter of hating the taste of healthy's a matter of seeing healthy food as an inconvenience and hassle (something prepared food corporations have bludgeoned us into turning into the implicit problem purely to benefit their bottom line).

reply to anon troll complainer

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Seriously. This guy is just belly-aching. People love to spread negative images about people they are afraid of in the first place. These anti-urban anti-urban people remarks are just racism. I hear it all the time. Conservative white people spreading vicious rumors about all those strange dark people.

Pollution is everywhere. Lead paint falls close to houses where it was used primarily as a trim color.
There never were houses on most of this property. This property is no more polluted than Allendale farm in Jamaica Plain is. Coal ash falls everywhere including the Farm Belt. Radon is absurd. Radon comes from the ground everywhere. It is NOT an urban pollutant. As far as dumping chemicals is concerned chemicals are much more likely to be dumped in the suburbs or countryside than in the middle of the city. This has never been an urban problem.

As far as cost goes. People don't keep a garden to reduce costs. Given the high cost or corporate garden supplies it is difficult to break even on costs. What you get from gardening is a healthy lifestyle. Exercise fresh air and fresh picked vegetables and a community of peace loving people all lead to a better life. Urban gardens turn waste areas into beautiful places.

In the last paragraph this guy tips his real hand. Its all about being like the good people at "Haymarket square" . ( good white people here). And then come all the racist stereotypes." People who eat fast food ie poor people do so because they like fast food. Not because they are working three low paid jobs and don't have a minute to cook or shop. Those people are the way they are because of who they are

Just more conservative hated coming from angry white people. Im just sick of these contemptuous
hostile racist white people from the suburbs with thei narrow minded prejudiced points of view. They are not satisfied with killing millions of nonwhites around the world. They have to find enemies at home to hate.

Dont be silent in face of this horrific racism and class hatred. Speak out. Be heard. They do not represent the good people of this country.

Send em packing!

Wow, you've got some serious

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Wow, you've got some serious issues of your own.

Why are you so full of hate?

Racist post

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Just more conservative hated coming from angry white people. Im just sick of these contemptuous hostile racist white people from the suburbs with thei narrow minded prejudiced points of view. They are not satisfied with killing millions of nonwhites around the world. They have to find enemies at home to hate.

This is a racist post.

I don't have any opinion on urban farming. But I do have an opinion on racism, even when it's cleverly packaged as "reverse" racism.

Get help.

You don't ever see your

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You don't ever see your average McDiet FastfoodKing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner crowd at Haymarket.

I don't get how anyone could see racism in that statement. I picture overweight people that would never want to eat a salad in my food snob oriented mind, but that's just me.

I was adding to your

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I was adding to your statement, sorry if it seemed like I was trying to zing you.

Community Gardens

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First of all not all produce absorbs lead from the ground, second that’s why raised beds are used with a barrier is installed on the bottom. I test my soil yearly and my Dorchester garden is safer than most suburban gardens.

Every piece of supermarket produce you purchase is not fresh and treated with some type of chemical, even the organics.

Community Gardens build a community, Neighbors meet neighbors and get people outside away for from their TV's, computers and video games.
If you have doubt that gardens do not change eating habits check out,spend a day with these kids. When students in Roxbury go to the school officials and request better school lunches someone is doing something right. My son started eating fresh vegetables at 4, when he planted his first garden.
Community gardens have been around since WW1. You find them spread though out the city with waiting lists. The Fenway and South End have waiting lists up to 2 years.

Detroit model

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I've heard that this has worked out really well in Detroit and provides a great service to the local community for fresh produce that they can often feel proud of having in their neighborhood (in contrast to the usual dismissal, or worse neglect) of the vacant lot without a farm on it.

One of the ways Detroit is an interesting model is the idea of using the lots as a model of not only urban farming, but also high-density farming. How much farming can you pack into a single lot's space through new and innovative technology (think MIT tie-ins). Sure, one way to jump-start the US economy is through green energy because the world needs better renewable energy technologies...but the other big thing the world needs more of (and soon) is food. More food from less space makes these empty lots the perfect incubators for growing the technologies...right alongside growing the food (puns completely intended).

As an aside, is Allandale Farm in Boston or Brookline

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Allandale likes to advertise that they are in Brookline, but if you take a drive over there (as I do every Christmas season to pick up a tree) it seems to me that the farm is situated at the very edge of Boston city limits. I'd like to think the farm is in Boston, so I can brag to suburbanite friends that one does not need to leave Boston city limits for anything, not even to buy a Christmas tree at a farm. Any thoughts?

The farm

The farm is big. Most of the fields are in Brookline, but the shop and greenhouses are in Boston. You can see in Google Street View that the Welcome to Boston sign is right across the road from the farm store entrance. The Welcome to Brookline sign is on the other side of the heavy trucks sign.

So you are correct in stating that you do not need to leave Boston city limits to go to Allandale Farm to buy a tree. You are doing that entirely in Boston.

Urban chicken coop

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I wish the city would allow a certain number of egg laying chickens in appropriate backyards.


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Boston's Zoning Code defines "accessory keeping of animals" as "the keeping of horses, cows, goats, poultry, pigeons, rabbits, bees, or similar animals other than pigs." I am pretty sure that accessory keeping of animals is generally not permitted in residential-zoned areas (there may be exceptions, but I don't know of any). I understand that the city is looking at this issue.


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Somebody down the block from us got in trouble for having a chicken coop, which just seems ridiculous to me. The chickens weren't bothering anybody. It's not like they had a rooster crowing at dawn or anything like that.

I think it has to do with

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I think it has to do with sanitary code. Livestock/fowl can breed some nasty germs if not properly kept. Big concern at the turn of the last century, probably no so much now days with modern sanitation.