It's hard to walk past Brookline Growers without stopping out of curiosity. Red siding that resembles a barn and a model tractor hanging over the door stand out in the Coolidge Corner neighborhood. Big windows let you see into the store's front where goods from local bakeries and farms sit on the sills.

Kristine Mahan

In one of the windowsills are potted basil plants, soaking up the incoming sunlight. As I came to find out, these are some of the only greens grown by soil and sunlight that are sold at Brookline Growers. 

The bags of greens like arugula, kale, mache, and mustard greens on their refrigerated shelves were grown hydroponically behind the store. While I was not expecting to come across new-age farming practices in Coolidge Corner, it made me curious so I reached out to the owners for an interview. 

The greens sold at Brookline Growers are grown in repurposed shipping containers from Freight Farms. The owners of Green Line Growers, Bobby Zuker and Christopher Mutty, started this hydroponic farm in December 2015 using three of these containers. 

tea, coffee, beer, cake
Kristine Mahan

This isn't your typical farm. Bobby and Chris took me on tour of one of the containers where produce like radish, strawberries, romaine, and varieties of kale are being grown. 

grass, water
Kristine Mahan

I was walked through the steps to grow an edible plant on this farm. The ebb and flow hydroponic system used by Green Line Growers works in synch with technology that controls the container's environment, so to speak. A constant temperature of 63°F and regulation of humidity and CO2 levels make this produce thrive. 

3 weeks into the growing process, the seeds are moved from flats to a vertical system where they mature for another couple of weeks. 

wine, gem
Kristine Mahan

Red and blue LED lights replicate the natural photosynthesis that would happen in an outdoor, soil-grown setting. Nutrient-rich water circulates to each plant through a closed loop system that uses approximately 10% of the water needed with conventional methods. 

Because of the controlled indoor environment these greens grow in, there's never a need for pesticides. A bad harvest due to weather is another avoided stressor for this farm. 

spam, coffee, beer
Kristine Mahan

The greens coming out of these containers aren't just sold at Brookline Grown in Coolidge Corner. The produce Green Line Growers harvests every week makes its way to local restaurants, into CSA boxes, and to farmers' markets. 

It's hard to believe more than 1200 heads of lettuce can be produced from a shipping container in a week. This vertical growing system saves an enormous amount of space. The 3 containers used by Green Line Growers equate approximately 1 1/2 acres of soil-grown crops. 

Before following up in their Brookline Grown store to talk about the products they sell, Bobby picked a breakfast radish, romaine, curly kale and Toscano kale for me to nibble on. I had been cooking all week with the arugula I bought on my initial visit, these additions had me sold on the hydroponic farming these two are doing. 

beer, alcohol, wine
Kristine Mahan

Brookline Grown prides itself on sourcing all the products they sell from 20 miles away or less. This hyper-awareness of the importance of locavorism fosters unique relationships with their patrons and partners. 

As for the produce they don't grow themselves, it comes from local farms using responsible practices. Making local products accessible to the community is of paramount interest to Bobby and Chris. They act as ambassadors to the local economy while helping people discover new foods. 


Brookline Grown is also conscious of making sure those with speciality diets and food restrictions can support the local community too. Everything from Kosher products to gluten-free bread can be found on their shelves. 

Green Line Growers' greens are just a small portion of the inventory at Brookline Growers but stand out as an enormous asset to the community. They'll offer something no conventional farm can in the winter months, changing what it means to eat seasonally and locally. 

You can rest assured that I will no longer be buying my greens at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. Making a conscious decision to support local business is always a good idea. So next time you're in Coolidge Corner, stop in to check out for yourself these locals' hard work supporting the community.