Is this the coolest “office” in Boston’s Innovation District?

John Stoddard, "founding farmer" at Higher Ground Farm.
John Stoddard, "founding farmer" at Higher Ground Farm.

On a warm September morning, it’s hard to imagine a better place to work that the rooftop above the Boston Design Center. There’s a fantastic view of downtown through an archway, the harbor is sparkling, and a cruise ship is parked at the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal next door. And at Higher Ground Farm, their casual Friday dress code likely differs a bit from casual Friday at your office…

Higher Ground sells produce like tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, squash, and greens to restaurants like Tavern Row and markets like American Provisions. But they also set up a farm stand every Friday from 1 to 3 PM in the lobby of the Design Center. Stoddard says they’ll continue that through the end of October.

Stoddard says the farm is only using about a quarter of the rooftop space allocated to it so far. Expanding will require additional capital; they raised $23,000 on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter last year. In addition to setting up more planters and irrigation, they’re also hoping to hire a falconer — apparently that’s a thing — to scare away the seagulls. It’s not that the gulls are gnawing at the arugula: “They nest on the roof, and they can get aggressive,” Stoddard explains.

There’s also the issue of access to the roof: it requires ascending a staircase, so it’s not handicap-accessible. Stoddard says that’s a barrier to doing things like holding classes, outdoor farm dinners, and other special events that would help Higher Ground bring in additional revenue.

I wrote about urban farming back in 2012, before Higher Ground had found a location; it was great to see the business in action.

A few photos below…

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Sign you see upon exiting the stairs and stepping out onto the roof.

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Higher Ground uses milk crates lined with fabric as planters.

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Tomatoes on the vine, above, and ready for the weekly farm stand, below.

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Noisy neighbors — if you don’t like Jimmy Buffett music.

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Packaging up greens for the weekly farm stand downstairs.

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Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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