Brendan Shea '04 and Mark Winterer '02

We Should’ve Known

Letter from the Editor


Deborah Dudley

I love the phrase, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” It has always been my go-to mantra whenever I need to alleviate the guilt of having missed something important in an article. Of course, the University Communications team works very hard to know what we need to know in order to inform and connect alumni and provide important news and information to all of our readers. But, sometimes we miss things. And, when those things are revealed, they often seem so obvious. We should’ve known.

I honestly appreciate when readers contact us to let us know what we don’t know. Like everything else in St. Lawrence magazine, what we missed in the last issue has everything to do with Laurentian connections. In this case, the connection between Fenway Farms and two St. Lawrence alumni, Mark Winterer ’02 and Brendan Shea ’04, who designed and built the gardens seeded atop the Gate A entrance of Boston’s Fenway Park. (see Fall 2017, pgs. 36-37)

Winterer and Shea are the founders of Recover Green Roofs, a company of green roof professionals, landscape designers, horticultural specialists, and craftsmen who transform low-use sites into working green spaces throughout the Northeast.

They met at St. Lawrence in 2000 through the Outdoor Club, building giant sleds for the annual Snow Bowl Extravaganza and became friends while living in the Outing Club theme cottage. They continued to be roommates after graduation before Winterer departed for graduate school in Nashville.

 “While I was in school, Brendan used to bounce ideas off of me,” says Winterer. “He helped me put together a business model for composting toilets in Bangladesh that a Bangladeshi investor wanted to finance.”

Prior to the company’s launch, Winterer and Shea each acquired years of experience in industries focused on responsible leadership and business practices, innovative technologies, and sustainable engineering and construction practices. By 2009, their combined talents were formidable.

“Brendan called me after I graduated from business school and asked me to help him start a green roof business in Boston,” says Winterer. “Eight years later, we’ve made the Emerald City greener and have ten full-time and ten part-time employees!”

Since starting Recover, Winterer and Shea have been transforming the urban landscape one building at a time, and their team has been involved in the design, build, or maintenance of more than 100 green roofs and walls throughout the Northeast. The company works with commercial, residential, and institutional clients from elementary schools to universities and hospitals to private residential developments helping each of them capitalize on the engineering, energy savings and harvests of green installations. Opened in 2015, Fenway Farms is a good example: Managed by Green City Growers, the garden is a 7,000-square-foot rooftop farm providing 4,000 lbs. of organic produce to Fenway Park’s EMC Club restaurant.

I had to laugh when Winterer called about the photo of the gardens. The magazine staff had been back and forth about whether or not to use it for the SLU Connect-Boston program article and kept asking ourselves, “What’s the connection?”

I was a fan of the garden shot because it showed how students were getting a behind-the-scenes look at Fenway operations and the innovative business model of having a rooftop garden and farm-to-table supply in such an iconic facility. What we missed was that the real story was the behind-the-scenes of the behind the scenes. It was the story of two Laurentians who met in Canton, New York, building giant sleds as students and who went on to build an innovative business that is out in front of urban gardening, green architecture, and engineering and sustainability.

When I hung up the phone after hearing Mark and Brendan’s story, I couldn’t help but think, there is always a Laurentian connection.