Enter Fenway Park from Gate D Yawkey Way. Head upstairs toward the EMC suite level. Along the backside of the park, parallel with the third baseline, you will encounter a lush green landscape — an AstroTurf-covered roof laden with rows of black milk crates, overflowing with vegetables.
The 5,000-square-foot space used to be a black tar rooftop at Fenway, which only saw the occasional foul ball. Now, it is an urban oasis, growing more than 3,300 pounds of produce since the farm was installed last spring. The rooftop garden has been far more successful than the Sox this year, outpacing expectations so much that the Red Sox have expanded the kitchens using the produce — originally intended only for the EMC Club Restaurant, but now used by the State Street Pavilion Restaurant and two general concession stands.
We get a tour of the prolific urban farm by the team that made it all happen, and talk about the future of urban agriculture.
On the benefits the farm for Fenway
CK: “Believe it or not, we do have a lot of demand from fans for very healthy and fresh options. We originally started with the understanding that we would just use it in the EMC Club Restaurant and pretty quickly realized we had more produce than we could use in that particular restaurant. So [we] moved into using it in the State Street Pavilion restaurant. In the last couple weeks, we opened a couple general concession stands that are offering kale salads and wraps using produce from the farms.”
JB: “We actually are able to provide the EMC Club Restaurant with 15 to 20 percent of their produce needs during the on season, which is huge, and it’s all coming from just this 5,000 square foot area.”
Urban agriculture is all about ‘exposure’
JB: “There are tours that run every hour, so on average there are about 10,000 people walking by the farm and stopping here as part of the tour. … We have a lot of people who are season ticket holders who are coming back periodically throughout the season, who are able to watch the site change. It’s really dynamic, it’s become this interactive and active space that is being used regularly, not only by the park itself, but by people who are here attending games.”
BS: “It’s educating the general public, it’s educating even architects and developers as to what the boundaries of construction can be. We’re just starting to look at how we could design cities and buildings to be more human friendly, and not just concrete, cold places to be — which we do have our fair share of here in Boston.”
JB: “We’re seeing what the impact of this site is. We’re looking at possibly up to a half a million people interacting with this farm over the course of each season, so that’s annually. And that is a bigger impact than really any other urban farming project in the Greater Boston area, and I think one of the huge things that is important about urban agriculture is exposure and getting people to understand how food grows and feel good and feel motivated to be growing their own and to potentially be sourcing food locally. So that’s the part that feels really incredible to us.”
On doing the 9-5 at Fenway Park
JB: “It’s the coolest place to be working. It’s an absolute dream to be here.”