Friday, March 23, 2018

Gardening at the DBAP

The Durham Bulls are known for our urban oasis of luxuriant turf. Up next: squash and tomatoes and blueberries!

We are creating an edible landscape along Jackie Robinson Drive - an urban garden. It’s a riff on the Victory Gardens of wartime and the symbolic battle with food insecurity and unhealthy diets. [Bulls media release]

Inter-faith Food Shuttle came to us with this project. Mark Stanford at the American Tobacco Campus is on their board. IFS is promoting urban gardening in what are called food deserts - low income neighborhoods with limited access to fresh fruits and veggies. And it helps to alleviate food insecurity. 23% of NC’s kids live in households classified as food insecure according to the just-released 2018 NC Child Health Report Card. 

Another IFS board member Kurt Bland has been a key player. He’s in the landscaping business, and his firm figured out how to tuck a 1600 sq’ garden between the ballpark and Jackie Robinson Dr. The street-side location will allow IFS to bring in school groups. Their bus or van can pull right up to the garden. 

The Bulls are proficient at growing grass, but I couldn’t vouch for our ability to raise beans and ‘maters. That’s where Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC stepped up with the funding to maintain the garden. The project is aligned with their interest in promoting healthier diets. BCBSNC is particularly concerned with food insecurity, access to fresh/healthy food and childhood obesity. 

How does your garden grow? Check on our progress this summer. I’m hoping the DBAP is the perfect spot for a downtown garden that will bring attention to these issues of hunger, nutrition and better health. Maybe you can grab a handful of fresh blueberries before a game.

PS - check out Thrive NC. It’s another way Blue Cross is bringing attention to food system and health issues...with a food festival! 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A Clubbie's Spirit

One year ago Monday our forty-two year old Clubhouse Manager Colin Saunders passed away. He had been very ill, seemed to be improving, then suddenly, he was gone.

Despite fourteen years of greeting one another in the office and catacombs of the ballpark, Colin and I weren’t close. I did not post about this last March. There were no stories or insights to share. (That photo does suggest a shared bad taste in argyle vest sweaters.)

I especially regret that disconnect because a profound sadness among my coworkers settled over the ballpark. Colin was beloved by our staff and within the Rays organization. Confessor to some. Motivator to others. And chamberlain to the players and coaches. I use that archaic term to confer dignity on the Clubbie’s responsibilities and work. He pretty much lived at the ballpark. Steward to the ball players. Friend to all.

Looking back twelve months, the 2017 season had a gloomy beginning. Yet the Bulls went on to win the Governors’ Cup and Triple-A National Championship. We set business and attendance records - a remarkable year. It’s not sentimental conjecture - there's undeniable proof - Colin’s spirit was with us.