Convention centers are the hosts to major meetings and events that bring guests together across the globe. With such largescale events happening frequently, local communities often benefit from these events in various ways, like food donations to local food banks and local small business promotion. As the hospitality partner to the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA), Levy team members partnered with the two convention centers at MCCA (Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, and the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center) to find a unique way to make a positive impact in their own backyard.
After brainstorming and tossing around multiple unique ideas, Levy Convention Centers and the MCCA decided to partner with Green City Growers to create The Chef Garden.
The Chef Garden is about 800 square feet and provides fresh produce and herbs for Pine Street Inn, an organization that helps community members overcome homelessness with resources and assistance with housing and job training. The Chef Garden is conveniently located at The Lawn On D, a 2.7-acre outdoor event and entertainment space next to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.
Throughout the 2019 growing season, over 500 pounds of fresh produce and herbs were harvested and donated to the community.
Each Monday from May to November, Levy and Green City Growers harvest the Chef Garden. There are always new herbs or vegetables available, and a typical harvest includes items like basil, peppers, carrots, beans, and bok choy. In the last harvest of November 2019, the team harvested turnips, rosemary, and thyme, bringing color and fresh flavor to meals at Pine Street Inn.
“It’s an amazing experience to walk into a local food bank’s kitchen and see the chef’s eyes light up because they are receiving fresh, local, in-season produce to incorporate into their meal,” said Director of Experience for Levy at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, William O’Brien. “It encourages them to experiment with new recipes and flavors that they don’t have the resources to provide.”
The Chef Garden is now prepared to weather the winter, and the Green City Growers team have planted garlic, which will be one of the first things to emerge in the spring, and harvested in the summer. Salt marsh hay protects the garden for the time being.
Looking forward to next season, Levy and the MCCA would like to double the harvest and provide over 1,000 pounds of produce in 2020. Brainstorming and research for next season has already begun, focusing on new combinations of produce and herbs that will bring the most fruitful harvest yet for many to enjoy throughout the spring, summer, and fall.