Local Food Before Locavores: Growing Vegetables in the Boston Market Garden District, 1870-1930
Sally McMurry, Pennsylvania State University
Comment: Andrew Robichaud, Boston University
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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