Take me out to the garrr-den!
Take me out to the greens!
Forget peanuts and Cracker Jacks. A handful of Major League Baseball teams have started ‘farming the back 40’—and, in some cases, their sun-drenched stadium rooftops—to add healthier food choices to their concession menus while improving their operations’ sustainability.
In the process, these high-profile urban farms in Boston, Denver, San Francisco and San Diego are raising consciousness right along with their crops.
Take Boston’s Fenway Farms, for example, the newest of the four Major League growers. Its 1,800 square feet of raised beds are situated on the rooftop of the park’s front office, making them highly visible to most of the 37,000-some fans who regularly turn out for home games and other events at Boston’s legendary stadium.
“It’s wild. We’re really, really, really excited about this,” Jessie Banhazl, founder of Green City Growers, told The Christian Science Monitor as her company was ramping up Fenway Farms’ operation. “This particular project is the coolest and most widespread reach that we’ve ever seen with an urban agriculture project.”
Chris Knight, the Red Sox’s manager of facility planning and services, agreed. “We have such a platform here at this level of sports and at Fenway Park,” he said. “This is one way we can make an impact for the environment and nutrition.”
This melding of gardening and baseball all started in a pitchers’ bullpen. In 2012, the stadium chef for the San Diego Padres persuaded the team’s head groundskeeper to plant a dozen hot pepper and tomato plants in the Petco Park bullpen. The following year, the Colorado Rockies installed a 600-square-foot kitchen garden near Gate A at Coors Field in Denver. Then last year, the San Francisco Giants put in The Garden at AT&T Park, a 4,320-square-foot dining pavilion serving produce grown in several nearby gardens and a high-yield vertical farm.
Will the trend continue into other MLB cities? Time will tell. But Green City Growers’ Banhazl has already glimpsed the potential influence that Boston’s ballpark farm may have on just plain folks. She watched on opening day as countless kids ran up to the railing to see the growing beds for the first time.
“They’d say, ‘Oh my God, the Red Sox have a farm?’” she recalled. “‘We should do this, Mom!’”
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