Written by Julie Salvatoriello
USGBC EPMA, alongside Net Impact Boston, took a tour of the Fenway Rooftop Garden lead by Jessie Banhazl from Green City Growers and Brendan Shea from Recover Green Roofs.
The 2,400sqft Fenway Rooftop Garden is in its fourth year of operation. It grows 30+ types of produce, and produces 6,000lbs of organic, food safe certified produce annually, making up approx. 35% of the produce used by the Dell EMC club (with overflow going to other places in the park food network, including the concessions stands). Everything in this rooftop container garden is grown in Vermont Compost Company soil who were generous sponsors of this event.
This garden gets exposed to 1/2 million people every year, including the 15,000 that take a Fenway tour each week. In fact, Fenway is the #1 tourist attraction in New England. Jessie noted that many tour goers have never seen urban agriculture systems in person and the rooftop garden inspires people to question, investigate and act upon their food sources and supply chains.
Green City Growers and Recover Roofs also showed us the adjoining Vineyard Vines Club. This open-air rooftop space was also built upon a previously underutilized rooftop space and transformed into a gathering and socializing area filled with edible landscaping. Center planters were planted with Kale and with some cucumber vines hanging over the side. Produce grown in the Vineyard Vines Club is donated to local food rescue: Lovin’ Spoonfuls, based in Brookline, MA.
If you love all of this, Jessie and Brendan also told us a bit about how we could create some of these systems in our own backyards and rooftops (if it’s sturdy enough and not too slanted). The Fenway Rooftop Garden is planted entirely in standard square milk crates lined with 13x13x13in square pot planter liners; all sitting upon an artificial turf roof. The milk crates are set up with a drip irrigation system with irrigation spikes to send water straight to the roots. The garden is highly productive, light and easy to move. The liners are filled with The Vermont Compost Company’s Fort Light mix and amended with their Compost Plus.
We learned from our tour that Fenway is committed to sustainability. It is the oldest ballpark in the country and the first ballpark to install solar panels. It was been lowering its electricity load over the past decade, reducing it by 11% since 2011.
The USGBC Emerging Professionals of Massachusetts are so grateful to Fenway for their sustainability efforts and for leading these tours. Thank you to Jessie and Brendan from Green City Growers and Recover Green Roofs for your work and the wonderful tour. This was my first tour of Fenway and now I absolutely have to go back and bring my family.