How does your garden grow?
Have you ever wondered what it takes to be the chef of a major league team? Probably not. It wasn’t on my radar either until I read a fascinating article about Chef Morgan Bunnell who orchestrates the daily meals for the L.A. Galaxy soccer team. Since today’s professional athletes no longer carbo load, it’s his job to create healthful yet delicious meals using seasonal ingredients to satisfy a range of dietary needs. To achieve these results Bunnell enjoys using fresh produce harvested from a garden nestled beyond some concession stands through a nondescript gate at the StubHub Center–home of the Galaxy team.
Of special interest is that the employees at StubHub started the garden on their own time and some of the players help them tend to it. Locally grown food is a priority for Bunnell who planted herbs and vegetables in his backyard before enjoying the benefits of an on-site garden just steps away from his kitchen. From the StubHub garden he sources ingredients including fresh honey from eight beehives year-round to feed from 90 to 180 players and staff daily.
StubHub is not the only stadium garden. The 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara has a budding garden and in 2015 the Boston Red Sox planted Fenway Farms, a 5,000 square foot rooftop garden on the third base side of the ballpark above Yawkey Way. About 4,000 pounds of produce are harvested annually which fans can enjoy while dining at Fenway Park’s EMC Club Restaurant. The stadium’s Strega Deck garden was opened in 2016 to provide food that is donated to the community through the food rescue partner, Lovin’ Spoonfuls.
It’s exciting to see such creativity about where a garden grows. The belief that farms are the only food suppliers has been replaced with an attitude of possibility and potential. In Troy, Michigan, owners of an industrial building transformed the side yard from turf grass to an organic vegetable garden providing a small environmental oasis offsetting the predominately concrete appearance.
The benefits of these gardens are therapeutic as much as they are nutritious. While home gardeners have reaped the rewards for a long time, the onset of community gardens particularly in the work setting is more recent. Giving people the opportunity to tend a garden during work hours eases stress, keeps employees fit and can improve overall mood.
So, if gardening on your own feels overwhelming or you don’t have access to your own plot of land, volunteer at a school or community garden. They seem to be growing everywhere these days.
Originally published in the Orange County Register, Globe edition, October 12, 2017