By: Colin Day
The Institute for the Built Environment has finished its first growing season in the urban garden business. In collaboration with ARAMARK Food Services operating at Coors Field, our executive management and graduate student interns implemented the installation of the Coors Field Sustainable Garden, located at Gate A of the stadium in Denver, before the commencement of the 2013 baseball season. ARAMARK food services, an industry leader in public venue scale food service and facility maintenance, contracted IBE to assist in the creation of a pilot garden space, a first within major league sports venues. The goal was to realize the vision of on-site, sustainably produced food. The design mimics a baseball stadium with raised beds terracing upwards from the garden’s ‘infield’ to the ‘outfield’, to the ‘stands’. Ornamental flowers, followed by herbs and beneficial garden plants, followed by vegetables were on display for the ½ million fans that pass through Gate A over the course of the Rockies’ season.
The vision of ARAMARK to display and provide healthy, sustainably produced herbs and vegetables on-site as a part of their food operations is an example of a large company-wide commitment to sustainability. ARAMARK promotes sustainable practices in food purchasing, environmentally responsible consumer choices, greenhouse gas conscious building operations, energy and water conservation measures, green cleaning, greening their delivery fleet and ethically managing their waste products.
IBE facilitated design development, chose sustainable materials that would best suit the project ethos, contracted local, organic plant propagation, managed PR communication from conception to implementation and participated in the installation of the garden. During the 2013 growing season, the Coors Field Sustainable Garden provided 600 sq/ft of on-site, sustainably produced and managed vegetables, herbs, flowering ornaments, and plants that promote beneficial garden ecosystem functions to on-site chefs through the 2013 growing season. The harvest included heirloom varieties of tomatoes and peppers and a wide variety of herbs that were harvested by the IBE team and on-site kitchen staff during late August and early September of 2013.
IBE has successfully contracted to expand the scope of our involvement with ARAMARK in the 2014 growing season. This will include outreach to educational and city programs in the Denver area with an emphasis on community involvement and healthy, sustainable food choices for at-risk and under served youth communities. In order to realize these goals, our project team will pursue partnerships with programs such as and Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), as well as potential coalitions with governing bodies such as the Denver Public School System. Additionally, our crops selections will be expanded to lengthen the growing season and increase the variety of selection and nutrition within the beds.
Ultimately, IBE hopes to develop the ‘The GaRden’ as a component of ARAMARK’s Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) goals. With outreach to other interested ARAMARK facilities with assistance from Denver ARAMARK management, the goal is an export of sets of guidelines and toolkits that assist in the establishment of sustainable gardens at other ARAMARK venues. Through the connection between relevant programs in higher education to nearby ARAMARK facilities, the potential ensuing collaboration would include regionally relevant outreach agendas.
Our experience at Coors Field in collaboration with ARAMARK corresponds with our ethos of sustainable design in the built environment, regionally relevant projects, and educational outreach that intends to spread understanding about sustainable activities and their impacts on health. IBE looks forward to breaking ground at Coors Field again during the 2014 growing season with our project partners at ARAMARK.