Fenway’s Green behind the Green Monster
By Rachel C. Kirby
Rachel C. Kirby is a Ph.D candidate in the American & New England Studies Program at Boston University. This summer she is interning for Red Sox team historian, Gordon Edes. Unless otherwise noted, she also took the photographs included in this story.
Five years since making its debut, it remains one of the most unexpected sights at Fenway Park. Who would have ever imagined an organic vegetable garden on the rooftop of America’s oldest ballpark?
This June, Fenway Farms celebrated its fifth season of planting (Q. What do you serve at a farm’s birthday party? A. Carrot cake) since Linda Pizzuti Henry, the wife of Red Sox owner John W. Henry and one of the team’s limited partners, lobbied to replace the black rubber roof behind the third-base luxury suites with a garden of delights. Her vision became reality with the start of the 2015 season, when the Red Sox partnered with Recover Green Roofs and Green City Growers to launch the project.
Recover Green Roofs is a Somerville-based organization that transforms otherwise unused urban roofs into productive green spaces by waterproofing, constructing, and protecting existing structures. Managing the garden is Green City Growers (our “other farm team”), which maintains hidden gardens like Fenway’s throughout the Northeast.
Using a deceptively simple milk-crate container planting system, Green City Growers plants a wide variety of produce, including kale, cilantro, collards, mint, scallions, strawberries, sweet peppers, zucchini, and even edible flowers. The 5,000 square feet of Fenway Farms have already produced over 20,000 pounds of produce. Much of the harvest is used right here on site in the Dell-EMC Club, luxury suites and media dining room. Little goes to waste, though, as all additional produce is donated to Lovin’ Spoonfuls to share with community food banks.
This isn’t the first time a baseball field has been farmed. In 2000, former bullpen coach John Cumberland grew 18 tomato plants in the bullpen, hoping those 18 would bring him the luck of the 1918 World Series team. The Mets, Braves, and Tigers have all done a bit of gardening in their bullpens. Since 2010, the San Diego Padres’s Petco Park, the Rockies’ Coors Field, and the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park have become home to edible gardens.
And if you’ve ever gotten a tour from Red Sox historian Gordon Edes, you’ll know that Fenway Farms is his favorite part of the park. One of these days you’ll be able to find him sitting amongst the veggies on a folding chair doing what he does best. Telling baseball stories.