Big League Chew
Carolyn Jung - March 2014
San Francisco—As the 2014 baseball season gets underway, other posies just might be flourishing at San Francisco’s AT&T Park besides Giants MVP catcher and superstar, Buster Posey.
That’s because on or about Opening Day, the 2010 and 2012 World Series champions will unveil Giants Garden, a 3,000-square-foot organic, edible garden behind center field that will be planted with strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, a profusion of herbs and edible blooms, and much more. The garden will be the first of its kind at a sports facility in the United States.
The unique project is a collaboration between the baseball team and the Bay Area’s Bon Appétit Management Company, which has provided high-end foodservices at the ballpark since it opened in 2000.
Fedele Bauccio, co-founder and CEO of Bon Appétit, approached the Giants about the underutilized area behind the center field wall, primarily used to grow replacement sod. A longtime advocate of healthful, sustainable food, Bauccio’s vision was to create a field of deliciousness—a year-round garden replete with hydroponic troughs, green trellises, and concrete planters, along with an outdoor kitchen boasting a pizza oven and ample seating at tables that sport edible plants growing down their centers.
During the season, fans can take in the game from the garden while noshing on flatbreads and sandwiches made from the just-picked produce. In the off-season, it will serve as an outdoor teaching classroom for local school kids.
The most difficult part about the project? Constructing the wall that divides the field from the garden. Major League Baseball had to approve the wall, made of a special mesh that allows patrons to see through it from the garden but appears as a solid green wall from the mound so that it doesn’t interfere with the batter’s line of sight.
Both the baseball team and Bon Appétit hope the Giants Garden inspires other sports venues to create something similar.
“We’re pretty lucky here to have all these elements line up,” says Bauccio. “We have a team and a foodservice company that care deeply about the community; a lot of fans who care about good, healthy, locally grown food; a ballpark with the space to do it; and a more or less friendly growing climate. It would be great if others followed suit.”