by Amber

Major League Rooftop Farms

Fenway Park is the latest baseball stadium to get into offering locally grown fresh produce to fans attending games, and the team from onsite gardens or rooftop farms. However, Fenway Farms atop the Boston Red Sox stadium is the largest to date. They’ve got 5,000 square feet dedicated to growing organic herbs, greens, and vegetables as of this spring with an expected yield of 4,000 pounds of produce every season.

Notice the color of the socks on the farm sign? There’s a multi-faceted green initiative in place at Fenway, and it’s not just this newly installed organic urban farm. Aramark, who runs the concessions and restaurant at the ball park, is committed to upholding the park’s stipulations that fans have better, healthier food to eat on game day. All produce served in any item on the menu must be in season, andlocally sourced – either from Fenway Farms beds, or at local farm markets. The park also stipulates that all meats served must be antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and pasture-raised. Unlike other farm to fork projects on the grounds of a restaurant, the chef and his staff aren’t growing the harvest here.

The rooftop growing space was built by Recover Green Roofs from nearby Somerville, while urban farmers, Green City Growers is doing the actual growing. Here’s their plan for the spring planting below.

Aside from reducing the amount of hotdogs, and nachos smothered in fake cheese sauce Sox fans consume at the park, the farm on the roof serves other purposes, such as reducing the cost of heating and cooling the offices that sit underneath it. Not to mention the blooming vegetable plants they will grow in these raised beds will give urban bees some sorely needed food. All of this makes Fenway a seriously greener place to be, but there’s more added value here.

Over the course of spring, summer, and early fall, there are a lot of days that no home game is scheduled. To get the most goodness out of their new rooftop farm, Fenway will use it to help teach school children about where food comes from, and how it is grown. Part of the produce will also go to improve the diets of of inner city kids.

Fans will be able to see the farm and it’s growing abundance from their seats behind Third Base. The harvest roster will seasonally include many garden-fresh favorites… kale, lettuce, pea shoots, arugula for greens. Later in the summer they’ll have green beans, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, sweet peppers, and tomatoes. Of course there will be basil, parsley, oregano, cilantro, chives, rosemary, thyme, and mint.

Who Was First?

Last spring the San Francisco Giants tweeted they were the first ball team to have their own garden. Guess they should have done some research, because the New York Mets had tomatoes growing behind the bull pen in 1969. This good luck charm was adopted by the Baltimore Orioles who planted tomatoes in the foul zone of Left Field in 1970. Even the Red Sox have had tomatoes behind the bullpen in the past, but the first true garden at a ball park claim is owned by the Mets. The groundskeepers took that little tomato patch coach Joe Pignatano started, and expanded it bit by bit into a large full-fledged garden. By 1997, spectators were complaining that the corn and sunflowers were blocking their view. Musta been quite a grow 😉

NY Mets Garden: July 1980. Photo by Betteman/Corbis via  Field of Teams

NY Mets Garden: July 1980. Image by © Bettmann/Corbis via Field of Teams

But the first 21st century ball park garden is surrounded by debate. The San Diego Padres have one, as do the Colorado Rockies, and a blogger did a write up on the Padres’ garden in 2012 – so they were definitely in front of the Giants on this one. Guess CBS isn’t much better at investigating; they reported that the 600 sq. ft. garden at Coors Park in Denver was the first major league garden in 2013. But in the video below you’ll hear the Padres’ Petco Park groundskeeper talk about having grown vegetable gardens at other ball parks in the past. This was filmed in June of 2012.

It’s awesome to see a greater effort being put into improving air quality, reducing energy needs, and raising the standards on ball park concessions fare. And while the Giants have boasted their garden was the biggest at 4200 some square feet, once again they’ve struck a foul. The herb and vegetable gardens at AT&T Park in San Francisco devote a lot of space to lawn, dining, lounging, and fire pits too. From photos it exudes upscale park airs… like it’s 50% growing space, and 50% other uses. Good thing they can produce food year around there without a greenhouse.

Yes, Fenway Farms is a totally agricultural space. It definitely is the largest ball park garden in the USA. They’re accustomed to paving the way here – Fenway Park also holds the title of the oldest baseball stadium in the country.


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The garden played a starring role from spring through fall in the house Amber was raised in. She has decades of experience growing plants from seeds and cuttings in the plot and pots.