GreenRoots Teaching Kitchen Proposed

Chelsea might not be the most obvious community to make a mark as a gardening and farming hotspot, but local nonprofit GreenRoots is continuing its efforts to bring freshly grown produce to the city. The latest effort is the creation of a teaching next to its urban garden at 59 Pearl Street. Tuesday night, GreenRoots Executive Director Roseann Bongiovanni was before the Zoning Board of Appeals for the initial public hearing for the teaching condition. The project requires a special permit because it’s located in the Waterfront Upland district. “The teaching kitchen proposed for 59 Pearl St. was a vision about six years ago by members of the Chelsea Community Garden, who were looking for a place to gather indoors for their harvest events … and cook together and share recipes, share culture, and share community,” said Bongiovanni. “They came up with designs and visions for this space, but it never came to be, because we didn’t have the funding to move forward with it.” However, about a year ago, GreenRoots was approached by Massachusetts General Brigham hospital, who had some grant funds they were looking to allocate, and asked GreenRoots if they were interested in opening a teaching kitchen. GreenRoots will be getting close to $1 million over three years to help make the community teaching kitchen a reality. Bongiovanni said the kitchen will be an essential addition to what GreenRoots is already doing in the community. “GreenRoots oversees five to six community growing spaces,” she said. “We have a garden that is focused just on young people, a garden focused on people who live in public housing, and a number of other community gardens that are open to everybody in the community, as well as an urban farm.” That urban farm played an important role in providing fresh produce to the community during the Covid pandemic. The proposed kitchen will be adjacent to the urban fard and the Chelsea Community Garden. “It’s an amazing opportunity to bring these two growing spaces together into a building to extend the growing season,” Bongiovanni said. “We can bring in additional food and teach throughout the winter season. The goal is to continue to build the urban farming and urban gardening program throughout the whole city beyond the warmer months.” The kitchen itself will be in a one-story portion of a warehouse complex that’s at the intersection of Marginal and Pearl streets. Some of the existing wooden structure will be preserved, with the layout of the interior predominately consisting of new kitchen space with a couple of bathrooms and an office. The programs will include bringing in chefs to help people learn how to prepare healthy foods. Bongiovanni said the space could also potentially be open for use by other community groups. The proposal will be before the Planning Board later this month for a recommendation, and before the ZBA for a potential vote at its Nov. 1 meeting.

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