environmental history
Seminar, Environmental History Seminar

Local Food Before Locavores: Growing Vegetables in the Boston Market Garden District, 1870-1930

Sally McMurry, Pennsylvania State University
Comment: Andrew Robichaud, Boston University

Thursday, December 16, 2021, 5:15PM - 6:30PM

The Boston market garden district was a national leader in vegetable production from 1870 to 1930.  Suburban market gardeners' practices both countered and anticipated broader trends in the US food system.  For example, intercropping  (though long-known) stood well outside the US agro-ecological mainstream. Boston growers also developed the modern forcing house, an engineered greenhouse environment dependent on fossil fuels, irrigation, and commodified insect pollinators.  Year-round lettuce from these houses helped prepare the way for consumers to embrace a de-seasonalized, nationalized vegetable supply.  This agro-environmental episode shows how the history of local food complicates our narratives about US food system modernization.

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