San Francisco has earned the reputation as one of America’s top foodie cities as well as ranking among The Nation’s most sustainable. One place where you might not expect these interests to overlap is Oracle Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants. Oracle was ranked second for Best Stadium Food by Ballparkratings.com, which declared that Oracle “really shines with its organic cuisine in The Garden.”
Since 2014, The Garden at Oracle Park has been a major player in the Giants’ organization. A collaboration between the baseball team and Bon Appétit Management Company, this 4,320 sq. ft. edible garden is situated behind Oracle Park’s center-field wall. Throughout the year, it is home to around 90 different types of produce, including blueberries, strawberries, lemons, tomatoes, peppers, squash, avocados, lettuces, and kale.
Produce takes a short “farm-to-table” journey from The Garden to becoming ingredients in dishes served at the two bistros located in the baseball stadium: the Garden Table (whose menu features items like all-vegetarian, tossed-to-order salads, and smoothies) and the Hearth Table (that offers gluten-free flatbreads in flavors like roasted red pepper, olive, and feta). These eateries are open to ticket holders during home games, from about two hours before game time till the game ends.
Fans can watch the game from The Garden as well, which is equipped with fire pits and deck chairs. During the pandemic, the stadium’s two bullpen areas were moved behind the outfield wall on either side of the Garden. So now, fans can enjoy direct views into the Giants’ bullpen from the Garden. Watching the game on the field is easier too as the center field fence was lowered seven feet.
The multi-purpose garden serves a variety of community functions even when a baseball game isn’t being played. The Giants and Bon Appétit have operated a year-round outdoor culinary education program that has been a popular field trip destination for elementary schools and other local organizations. Children can take part in an interactive cooking class where they are able to see with their own eyes how food is grown and then prepare a meal with their own hands. Since this program started in 2015, approximately 5,000 youngsters have visited the Garden for this unique educational food experience.
This type of youth program has been something that Fedele Bauccio, the CEO and co-founder of Bon Appétit Management Company, had envisioned for The Garden. “I’ve been wanting to help connect children and our larger community directly to the origins of their food and to inspire them to make healthy and responsible food choices. (This) has been a dream of mine and I am so proud to see it finally blooming.”
The Garden, moreover, is “green” when it comes to growing greens. It contains raised garden beds and aeroponic growing towers, which reduces water usage an estimated 95 percent over conventional growing methods. The aeroponic towers also help to maximize space by being able to grow over 40 plants per tower. Furthermore, coffee grounds have been used to fertilize The Garden, while the on-site sod farm not only supplies the ballpark with its turf but the sod farm doubles as a picnic lawn too.
Through its edible garden, the Giants are helping to inspire people to eat more healthfully and making them more aware of sustainability and urban farming. By having people develop a deeper understanding of the environment and wellness, it can forge a life-long bond much like these fans’ through-thick-and-thin fandom for the Giants.