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Take Me Out to the Garden!

San Francisco Giants AT&T Park Grows Food for a Home Run!

Baseball is one of America’s favorite sports with tens of millions of people attending baseball games each year. Fans enjoy the sport, the camaraderie, the hot dogs and drinks, but there’s one ballpark that offers fans more than the legendary peanuts and crackers jacks.

AT&T Park, home for the San Francisco Giants, 2010, 2012, and 2014 World Series Champions, is also home to a beautiful edible garden growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs.  

In late June 2014 (in the midst of the Giants’ World Series Championship season) Bon Appétit Management Company collaborated with the San Francisco Giants to create The Garden at AT&T Park.  Bon Appétit CEO and Cofounder, Fedele Bauccio, continuously strives to revolutionize the food service industry through fresh, made-from-scratch food, and collaborating with the San Francisco Giants was truly the perfect fit to bring the dream of growing food at the stadium a reality.  The intent for creating the 4,320 sq ft garden was to introduce and educate the community about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.  They now grow food all year long for the onsite dining menus and for cooking garden-fresh meals with children in the community.

Why a garden?

Though the idea of a garden inside a ballpark may come as a surprise to you, fans quickly have seen it as a unique place to enjoy the game.  Where else can you watch baseball, outside, amidst plants such as kale, avocados, strawberries, blueberries, lettuces, tomatoes, a variety of herbs, and more?

San Francisco is a great place to pursue this initiative.  Considering the city values homegrown food, low carbon footprint, innovative growing methods, and new opportunities for enriching the community, placing a garden inside AT&T Park provided an opportunity to infuse even more of San Francisco’s values into the ballpark.

Plus, with seats for 41,500 people, AT&T Park and the Garden are highly visible, inspiring the community to create their own urban gardens in their own spaces or simply inspiring visitors to think more about the story of our food.

Want to visit?

From the fire pits, herb table, herb bar, wood benches, concrete planters, and aeroponic towers, there really is a lot to see in The Garden area. The Garden at AT&T Park was built directly behind centerfield wall, just below the scoreboard, and is open to anyone with a ticket to the game. So not only will you get to enjoy the game, but you’ll also get to see the raised beds and aeroponic towers growing fresh-picked greens, vegetables and fruit. Throughout the garden beds there are plant identification placards so you can discover familiar and unfamiliar foods growing in plant form.  

And if you want to taste the benefits of this ballpark garden, eat from one of the two bistros located within the Garden, Hearth Table and Garden Table, which use the fruits and vegetables from the garden in their recipes. Both offer healthy food options for the crowd.  The Hearth Table offers options without gluten-containing ingredients like flatbread pizzas, seasonal salads, and an all-beef hot dog. The Garden Table offers an array of vegetarian items that include an antipasti bar, tossed-to-order salads, a roasted veggie sandwich, veggie dog, garden soup, and smoothies. Both bistros offer garden-inspired spa waters, a variety of local beer and wine, and their  famous strawberry smash bourbon punch.

In addition to being a beautiful part of the stadium and the practicality of providing food for the onsite dining options the garden also serves as a place for kids nutrition and culinary education programs.  Each week kids from community groups like the YMCA and Boys & Girls Club take field trips to the garden to learn about gardening, real food, the importance of healthy eating, and cooking.  The kids even get to harvest ingredients and cook a healthy meal as part of their field trip!

We had the chance to speak with Hannah Schmunk, who oversees community events and outreach that takes place in The Garden at AT&T Park.  She answered a few of our pressing questions about her experience at The Garden:

What’s your favorite thing you grow?

I love our summertime tomatoes. We grow sungold and black cherry tomatoes which are black and orange – the San Francisco Giants team colors.  Fans love to discover these and are often surprised to learn that tomatoes come in more colors than red.

When people visit your foodscape, The Garden at AT&T Park, what might surprise them?

A visitor might be surprised by the number of fly baseballs that land in the Garden, however they’ll be relieved to know we have an overhead net which protects visitors from being hit. During our first season, we had to increase the length of the net due to the large number of baseballs hit over the centerfield wall. Sometimes I think the players have a bet to see who can take out an aeroponic tower first.

She also left us with a pro-tip if you’re visiting AT&T park.  Check out the garden and look for the small cutout slits in the Garden's centerfield wall.  These spaces offer ground-level views of the field.

Whether you’ve come to the ballpark for a tour or you’re there to watch a baseball game, check out The Garden. Your eyes, ears, and tastebuds certainly won’t be disappointed!

Photo credit: SFGiants
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