Winter 2015

Urban Bounty

How green does this indoor garden grow

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Photo: Kelvin Ma

It’s amazing how much nutrition can be had from a small bit of soil, even inthe heart of the city. In 2013, the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts teamed up with the Massachusetts Horticultural Society to create an indoor vegetable garden in the lobby of the research center building on Washington Street in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood.

Three wooden carts, easily seen from the street, house the soil-filled bins and high-output fluorescent grow lights. Volunteers who maintain the garden have planted nine crops so far, including radishes, beets, turnips, Vietnamese mint, tatsoi and kale. The vegetables, harvested every few weeks, are donated to St. Francis House, a day shelter in the city. Here’s how this garden grows:

15 hours

Amount of daily light required to keep things growing

10 gallons

Amount of water the garden drinks each week

100 pounds

Weight of greens harvested in 2014


Cubic feet of cow manure mixed into the soil, donated by Mass Hort’s Compost Club

10 million

Added nematodes, those pest-killing microorganisms


The daily value of vitamin c in one cup of kale

5 minutes

Time spent each day to maintain the garden


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