From garden to garbage

By Korey O’Brien



Sustainability ranges from garden to garbage when it comes to working with food. This looks at where we get our food to how we prepare it to how we dispose of any scraps.

Those who work in the field of sustainability say people need to start focusing on change and growth when it comes to a greener future.

Lyndsay Rose, vice president of sales and marketing for Green City Growers in Somerville, is hoping that people will start to see this necessity.

“Boston is working really hard to kind of re-zone rooftops,” said Rose. “I am very confident and hopeful at the same time that, maybe [in] 10 years’ time, it will be a totally different city and that every rooftop that can have a farm will.”

One of these roofs is atop Ledge Kitchen and Drinks in Dorchester. Manager Mitchell Travis said the restaurant added the garden because eating and growing locally “is the future of restaurants.”  The restaurant did not advertise the garden when it first started, he said, but since they started advertising, the feedback has been positive.

“People were astonished,” said Travis. “The fact that a vegetarian would come in and not be able to pick anything from the menu and I tell them: ‘I’ll just go on the roof and pick you something.’”

But growing your own food is only one sustainable step. The process could becomes futile if food waste is not disposed of properly.

Benita Hussain works with Greenovate Boston and has been piloting a composting program across the city. She believes the waste management portion of food is so important in being sustainable that she doesn’t consider it to be waste at all.

“It’s a process by which we take organic materials, whether it’s food or leaves or yard waste, and turn it into soil,” Hussain said. “It’s a scientific process where we can actually use all of those scraps towards becoming a further resource for gardening or agriculture.”

The food that was grown at a particular garden, in this case, becomes the nutrient-enriched soil that is used to grow the next meal. The compost retains more moisture and upholds root structure during the next planting.

Hussain added that another benefit is that it is cheaper for the city to compost rather than use traditional waste management.

Much of the compost is collected at three farmers markets during the summer months. She said the program is currently looking into expanding into more farmers markets next year and providing collection at winter farmers markets as well.

About Korey O'Brien 5 Articles
Korey O’Brien is a multimedia journalist currently pursuing a master’s degree at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. He enjoys projects that get him out into the field and push him to learn new and interesting things.