Urban Farming Hits the Big Leagues

From foodtank.com
Alexina Cather

On November 10th, 2015 over 200 regional professional and collegiate sports teams, business and public leaders, athletes, restaurant owners, and chefs will convene at the Champions of Food event at Centurylink Field in Seattle. The goal of the symposium is to explore ways in which the sports industry can make advancements towards a more sustainable food system.

Many stadiums throughout the United States have already begun the process of creating a more sustainable food system by planting urban gardens and shifting food procurement policies to provide fans with fresh, sustainable food.

Food Tank has compiled a list of stadiums that are already making strides towards improving our food system.

  1. Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay, Florida: The home of the Tampa Bay Lightning in Florida is also home to an incredibly efficient hydroponic garden. The 1,120 square food garden has the growing capacity of an acre because of the innovative vertical stack farming. Herbs, spinach, arugula, cucumbers, tomatoes, and more find their way into menu items at the stadium and plans are in the works to use garden produce in players’ meals.
  2. AT&T Stadium, Dallas, Texas: The Dallas Cowboys are so committed to sustainable food that they have two full-time purchasers devoted to finding local, organic, and hormone-free products. All eggs used at the stadium are cage-free. Over 25 percent of the produce served at the stadium is certified USDA organic, and at least five concession carts at every game serve only USDA organic and healthier options.
  3. Coors Field, Denver, Colorado: The Colorado Rockies partnered with Aramark concessions staff and Colorado State University Students to plant organic herbs and vegetables at their ballpark. The 600 square foot garden features tomatoes, peppers, beans, and herbs in raised beds made from trees killed by pine beetles in the Colorado mountains.
  4. Fenway Farms, Boston, Massachusetts: The 5,000 square foot farm at Fenway Park in Boston opened in 2015, which supplies the EMC Club restaurant inside the park with fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. The remainder of produce bought by the stadium is local and seasonal whenever possible, and employees are sent to local farms to see how suppliers grow food.
  5. FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio: The home of the Cleveland Browns sources organic produce from local suppliers within 50 miles of the stadium. The stadium serves organic chicken and antibiotic and hormone-free beef at selected locations. Leftover, unused food is donated to the Cleveland Food Bank and totaled over 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) in 2013. Additionally, the stadium turns its food waste into a slurry, which is picked up by Quasar Energy Group and turned into biogas and nutrient-rich fertilizer. The biogas is used to generate electricity, and the fertilizer delivered to local farms.
  6. The Garden at AT&T Park, San Francisco, California: The garden at AT&T Park boasts a 4,320 square foot edible garden featuring seasonal fruits and vegetables that are picked fresh and sourced to the two bistros inside the stadium. In addition to providing fresh produce for both restaurants, it also serves as an outdoor classroom for children to learn about healthy food and nutrition through hands-on activities.
  7. Levi’s Stadium, San Francisco, California: Menus at the 49ers stadium feature antibiotic-free meats, sustainable seafood, vegan and vegetarian items, and local and organic produce as much as possible.
  8. Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia: The Atlanta Falcons new stadium, currently scheduled to open for the 2017 season, will feature raised beds and other edible plants. Blueberries will be the primary crop, which is appropriate as Georgia is the top-producing state for the high antioxidant fruit.
  9. Moda Center, Portland, Oregon: The home of the Portland Trailblazers features many greener food accomplishments. Sixty percent of all the food and beverage is local, and 30 percent of meat and produce is certified USDA Organic. All beef, pork, and sausage products are hormone and antibiotic-free. Additionally, all food waste is composted, and over 95 percent of disposal serving containers are compostable.
  10. National Park, Washington, D.C.: The Washington Nationals grow over 180 plants in their rooftop garden including tomatoes, zucchini, and squash, used in food items in premium clubs at the ballpark.
  11. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland: The Baltimore Orioles groundskeeper Pasquale "Pat" Santarone began growing tomatoes in foul left field all the way back in 1970.
  12. Petco Park, San Diego, California: In 2012 groundskeepers at the San Diego Padres stadium planted peppers and tomatoes behind the home team's bullpen for the chef to use in salsas.
  13. Shea Stadium, New York City, New York: The Smithsonian gave the Mets credit for the first major league vegetable garden when bullpen coach Joe Pignatano planted a few tomatoes in 1969, which groundskeepers later turned into a garden.
  14. Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma, California: The racetrack recruited agricultural students from Sonoma Valley High School to expand their garden. What began as six planter boxes transformed into a full-fledged garden featuring seasonal produce such as Bambino eggplant, Tuscan kale, and heirloom Romesco zucchini.