SF Giants win with New Edible Garden

At Garden TV we know that healthy choices make for healthy experiences, and lead to a strong and vigorous life.

That’s why we champion gardening and organic food — the building blocks of a fortified mind and body. Our mission is finding people and places in the world where gardens and gardeners are cultivating positive changes. Surprisingly, we found ourselves lining up outside AT&T Stadium in San Francisco to get a look at what the Giants were growing. Inside the park, we discovered an entirely new way to play ball.

We decided to pay the Giants a visit after hearing reports of an edible garden at the stadium — managed by Bon Appetit— and catering to hundreds of thousands of fans. Major league baseball always conjured images of fat tummies, super-sized beers and greasy eats. But the Bay Area team partnered with the management firm in June, 2014 to create a 4,300 cubic foot garden with aeroponic towers and soil beds that house pac kale, spinach, basil and other leafy edibles. Many of the menu-items from the garden-side cafes use ingredients raised on site. You’ll even find the odd chef darting between friendly fan groups and collecting greens.

Bon Appetit is a food industry company greening the way to a more eco-friendly future. They maintain sustainable and ethical sourcing for social good and better business. They operate over 500 cafes in 32 states, with five guiding principles to their Low Carbon Diet.

1. You bought it, You eat it – don’t waste food.
2. Make ‘Seasonal and Regional’ your food mantra
3. Moooove away from beef and cheese
4. Stop flying fish and fruit – don’t buy air-freighted food.
5. If it’s Processed and Packaged, skip it.

As part of their Farm to Fork program, the company requires chefs to purchase 20% of their ingredients from local farms within a 150 mile radius, and serve them no later than 48 hours from harvest. The company’s progressive approach doesn’t stop there: Bon Appetit runs programs to address animal welfare, farmworkers rights, fair fishing and the overuse of antibiotics in livestock. Along the way, they are pioneering new standards for service and taking on challenges like drug-resistant bacteria, the cause of MRSA. To push the food industry towards sustainable fishing, Bon Appetit got extra creative and co-sponsored the documentary Farming the Seas, in partnership with the MacArthur Foundation and others donors.

While the green community has always known how critical gardens are for personal and communal health, we’re delighted to see the San Francisco Giants step-up with a partner like Bon Appetit. We’ve watched foodie revolutionaries like Jamie Oliver and Alice Waters lead the way for edible school yards and mobile kitchens, taking on issues as dire as childhood obesity and autism. But the joy of gardening, and sourcing sustainably, has largely gone ignored in the world of sporting arenas, contributing to carbon emissions and wasteful consumption.

Not in San Francisco, however. The Giants drew the third-highest attendance in baseball last year, according to Forbes. Over 3 million fans passed through their garden gates.

Now you can experience a game and leave feeling like an athlete, inspired to do something healthy for yourself. We found fresh herbs, edible flowers, avocado trees and more — all growing next to bleachers, beer taps and bathrooms. It was a wonderful experience! Fans were chowing down on heirloom tomato salads and gourmet pizza. I actually had to go looking for the suspiciously peppered, hotdog-by-the-dollar to see if the venerable Ballpark Frank was still alive. Ha!

So the Giants aren’t your regular team, and AT&T Park isn’t how it sounds. They’re a pack of lean, mean, monster-green athletes breaking through to one post-season after another — with the support of legions of energetic fans in the stands.

Here’s to the Giants, on the cusp of another world championship-winning performance.