Rooftop greenhouse in the works for Boston Globe

Salad days may be ahead for the Boston Globe. A greenhouse aimed at providing 954 pounds of greens to staffers would be built on the Globe’s concrete roof under a plan presented to the newspaper’s neighbors on Monday night.

A representative of LightEffect Farms, which would run the greenhouse, outlined the project to twenty members of the Columbia Savin Hill Civic Association at the group’s monthly meeting.

Alice Leung, the company’s director of community relations, said the project could be up in running in four to six months, depending on the city’s permitting process, and would cost between $350,000 and $400,000.

The proposed 4,200-square foot greenhouse, which would be maintained by roughly two full-time employees, would include a small cleaning and processing area. The greenhouse would produce a “ton of salad” each week, which could provide 545 salads – at 4 oz. each – a day for the Globe cafeteria. About 955 pounds of salad would be up for sale to local retailers and restaurants, Leung said.

Leung said the greenhouse is a “pilot” project and they are still working out the Globe’s formal role. A lease arrangement with the Globe is possible, as is the Morrissey Blvd. newspaper becoming a “co-investor” in the greenhouse, she said.

LightEffect Farms is working with an engineer on a feasibility study on the greenhouse, Leung added.

The noise of the greenhouse’s operation – from the paddle fans, heating units and water pumps - would be 57 decibels or less, according to her presentation. The site would also include a 1,500 gallon above-ground tank for storage.

Leung said the company plans to explore options for collaboration with the Dorchester community, including the establishment of an advisory board of neighborhood representatives.

Trish Karter, who co-founded the Boston-based Dancing Deer Baking Company, is the CEO of LightEffect Farms. The company is partnering with Nexus Greenhouse Systems for the project.

“Hopefully some local businesses can utilize it,” said Anne Riley, head of the Columbia Savin Hill Civic Association.


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