Eat & Drink Local: Greenway Herbs Showing Up On Local Menus!
A few years ago we told you about plans to develop a multi-faceted Demonstration Garden in our Dewey Square Park. At the time, our Senior Horticulturist and Designer, Darrah Cole, spoke to the Conservancy’s intent to create a raised edible garden and outdoor classroom for instruction:
We want the garden to serve as a great example of a sustainable and beautiful urban space. We have raised vegetable beds, pollinator plants to attract beneficial insects, native plants of the Northeast USA, unusual edible plants and shrubs, and even wildlife habitat. The goal is to create a space that is visually lively all year round and provides an educational playground for sustainable garden practices. With that combination, we can create a learning laboratory for our Green and Grow apprentices, interns and members of the public who enjoy the Greenway every day.
In the years since, The Greenway’s horticulture staff has tended to the area that runs mere feet from a highway off-ramp and contains a Raised Edible Bed, Rain Garden, and Pollinator Garden. The Pollinator Garden serves to attract birds, bees, butterflies, and various beneficial insects that work to replace the use of harmful and persistent pesticides! The Rain Garden provides a huge benefit to such an urban area by capturing rainwater and slowly filtering it back down through the soil and into the water table, a process that cleans and filtrates the water.
For today’s blog, we’ll focus on the Raised Edible Garden, which serves as a rotating display of herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers. Thanks to the hard work of both Cole and The Greenway’s Volunteer Coordinator, Keelin Purcell, the Raised Edible Bed has flourished. Our team coordinates the planting of seeds on a rotating basis with most being planted in April and May each year. This year we planted 48 different kinds of seeds and seedlings in the Demo Garden, ranging from Artichokes to Zinnias! In the edible category, the garden has seen carrots, cucumbers, kale, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, broccoli, potatoes, snap peas, leeks, and more grown just steps from all the activity of our busiest park space!
Once each item is ready to harvest, Purcell visits the space weekly from early June through late October. Typically Purcell or Cole – usually working with volunteers dedicated to supporting our efforts in the space – heads into Dewey Square on a Tuesday or Thursday to coincide with weekly visits from the Boston Public Market farmers market on the Dewey Square Plaza. We work with the BPM to hold onto the harvest until the end of the day when representatives from Lovin’ Spoonfuls Food Rescue make their rounds to receive donations from Market vendors. Overall, The Greenway has grown and donated over 100 pounds of food in 2015 alone! (Volunteers interested in supporting this effort should contact us at [email protected]!)
This year has also seen the rise of a new form of interest in our Raised Edible Garden – local coffee shops and restaurants! Just in the past few weeks, our herbs have appeared in dishes and drinks served by some of the most popular spots in Boston: Trade, Townsman, and Boston Common Coffee Co.
In early August, we were contacted by Tenzin, head bartender at Trade hoping to use fresh lavender from our Demo Garden to feature in a drink he was creating for a national mixology competition being sponsored by GQ Magazine.
Later in the month we paired with long-time Greenway friends Boston Common Coffee Co. to include Greenway herbs in two incredible donuts: Blueberry Rosemary and Sweet Corn & Thyme. (Both BIG hits at The Greenway offices.) The rosemary and thyme were both delivered fresh from The Greenway!
Finally, on September 1, The Greenway’s newly formed ‘Young Friends of The Greenway’ group ventured out for a public art tour with Greenway Art Curator, Lucas Cowan, followed by a social at Townsman, next to our Chinatown Park. The Greenway had recently begun providing herbs to Townsman and Chef/Owner Matt Jennings and Bar Manager Silas Blake did NOT disappoint. The Townsman folks created three drinks using Greenway herbs:
- Using our chocolate mint, Silas thought honey was a nice compliment so he made a chocolate mint honey syrup – “to make a Bee’s Knees, a classic with honey, lemon, and gin. To make it more chocolate and herb forward, I added a little bit of Amaro Lucano!”
- The next creation came from Nicole at Townsman and used Greenway rosemary. She opted for a cocktail infusing gin with rosemary, and added white vermouth, a dash of absinthe, and topped it off with sparkling wine, garnished with a lemon twist. “Stunning and delicious” was the feedback from someone who tried it.
- The third drink paired bourbon with bitters and citrus, topped with The Greenway’s chocolate mint.
The Greenway is thrilled with the evolution of our Raised Edible Beds and our ability to both donate our harvest to local food banks while also helping the best and brightest in Boston’s local food scene experiment with freshest ingredients available anywhere! BIG thanks go to Darrah & Keelin from our Hort team, our dedicated army of volunteers, our friends at the Boston Public Market, and our collaborators at Trade, Townsman and Boston Common Coffee Co.
We can’t wait to think up our next partnership!