'Boston's greenest hospital' to get even greener with rooftop garden

The soil is tilled and plans are in place to plant leafy vegetables, tomatoes, cucumbers and more. But this green space isn’t on a farm or even in someone’s backyard: it’s on the top of Boston Medical Center.

The medical center says it will be the first hospital in Boston to have a rooftop garden. The garden will produce an estimated 10,000 pounds of food each season. Fresh produce and healthy fare will make its way to the hospital’s food pantry, cafeterias, inside patient meals and be for sale at a local farmer’s market.

“The goal with what we grow is to touch all of those people,” said David Maffeo, senior director of support services at Boston Medical Center.

Planting will begin in the 6,000-square-foot garden by the end of April.

The project cost an estimated $250,000, which came from donors, Maffeo said. Volunteers will till the fields and pick the plants alongside John Stoddard, a garden consultant with the nonprofit Health Care Without Harm who helped build rooftop gardens on top of the Fenway Park and the Boston Design Center.

“(Stoddard) is very passionate about bringing local and fresh food to urban populations,” Maffeo said. “He said he’d help me and one of his farmers. And we will have a lot of hands on deck in terms of people helping… a lot of volunteers.”

While it may seem strange for a hospital to operate a garden, the initiative fits nicely within BMC’s larger mission, executives said, reducing the hospital’s carbon footprint and energy use while reducing runoff water.

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