Eastie Farm unveils new state-of-the-art greenhouse

By Michael Coughlin Jr.

Eastie Farm, a non-profit organization that focuses on climate justice, food access, and community resilience, hosted several elected officials, including Mayor Michelle Wu, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new greenhouse at 6 Chelsea Terrace on Wednesday, Mar. 22. 

Photo Courtesy Mayor’s Office
Mayor Michelle Wu (left) and Sen. Lydia Edwards (third from left) help cut the ribbon to officially unveil the new state-of-the-art greenhouse.

Now, this new greenhouse is not your regular old greenhouse – it is geothermal and produces zero emissions – the first of its kind in all of New England. The greenhouse, brought in from the Netherlands and placed at the site via crane, contains three underground wells.

The wells range from 455 to 500 feet deep, where the geothermal heating or cooling comes from. “Down that deep in the ground, the temperature is kind of temperate – it doesn’t freeze and get as hot as it does up here when you go that deep,” said Eastie Farm’s Education Program Manager, Heather O’Brien.

“Basically – heating or cooling can come up from under the ground depending on the temperature and humidity in the greenhouse, bring that up, and will use electricity from wind or solar sources,” added O’Brien.

Not only will this greenhouse benefit the environment, but this technology will also enable Eastie Farm to grow food in it year-round.

As for the difference between the new geothermal greenhouse and other greenhouses, O’Brien explained that while other greenhouses are great, they rely on fuel like gas and propane to regulate temperature.

Considering East Boston is an environmental justice neighborhood, fuels like gas and propane are not prudent for the environment like geothermal energy is.

The attendance from so many elected officials, including Mayor Wu, was something O’Brien described as impactful – especially for them to get up close and personal with the greenhouse.

“It’s hard sometimes when elected officials are so busy, and you know abstractly what something means, but to actually see this greenhouse functioning in person, to be able to walk around, have a tour, check out how the air gets up from underground and figure out how we collect the rainwater,” said O’Brien.

“I think it’s very impactful for the Mayor to see and for her team – for the people working on GrowBoston and those kinds of teams – the environment department.”

Although O’Brien acknowledged the difficulty of putting more greenhouses like this around the city due to the lack of land availability – she did indicate it could be something to strive for.

“We should have them in every neighborhood – every school should have one of these. I would love it if every Boston Public School had one of these in the back schoolyard,” said O’Brien.

With the new greenhouse officially open, residents can come on down to 6 Chelsea Terrace on Tuesday evenings for tours and volunteer work parties. To view specific dates and times to not only see the new greenhouse but for all Eastie Farm events, you can visit https://eastiefarm.com/calendar-of-events/.

“We’ve had a lot of people come because it is the first time somebodies done something like this, and it’s amazing because we’re a small non-profit. We don’t have heavy funding from somebody, we’re not a government agency or anything like that, and if we could do this, I feel like anybody can,” said O’Brien.

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