In recent years, NFL stadiums and their concessionaire partners have made significant efforts to diversify their food offerings. Gone are the days of a fan’s stadium food choices being limited to hot dogs, nachos and pretzels. These days when entering an NFL stadium, fans can literally choose from hundreds of items ranging from brisket topped sausages to truffle macaroni and cheese.
Food options continue to be a major focus of teams in their fight to attract fans to the stadium. This season, one NFL team has taken a unique approach when it comes to giving fans the freshest food selections.
Today, the San Francisco 49ers announced the opening of the NFL’s first vegetable garden and first vegetable garden on the roof of any professional sports stadium, the Faithful Farm. Located on the NRG Solar Terrace, atop Levi’s Stadium’s SAP Tower, the farm spans 4,000-square-feet. Since July, it has been producing tomato, summer squash, pepper, eggplant and herb crops. Nearly 40 rotational crops and herbs have been planted in the garden, with each ingredient being harvested to use in dishes served at Levi’s Stadium.
The crops’ production means exciting new food offerings for 49ers fans this year at Levi’s Stadium. The stadium’s executive chef, Dinari Brown of Centerplate, has created seasonal menus centered around the crops’ production. Using the 150 pounds per week of produce the farm is expected to produce, Brown’s menus for 49ers fans feature truffled summer squash and Dungeness crab risotto, ratatouille nicoise, crispy tempura shishito peppers and shichimi dusted colossal prawns and heirloom tomato and fried eggplant napoleon.
While the farm presents 49ers fans with unique new food offerings, it also helps the team accomplish corporate and civic responsibility goals. First, by sourcing food from a stadium-based farm, the team reduces its carbon footprint. Levi’s Stadium has also partnered with Hunger at Home and the Salvation Army to deliver any unused prepared food to people in need.
“Even before Levi’s Stadium opened we expressed an interest in growing our own food on our rooftop at some point during the first few years of operations. We had to prioritize a number of other stadium improvements first to get ready for Super Bowl 50, but we were motivated to get the garden project completed before the start of the 2016 season. It is important to our organization to be good corporate citizens in every way possible and lowering our carbon footprint and reducing our dependence on outside food sources both contribute to minimizing our impact on the environment. We try to incorporate environmental responsibility into every aspect of the stadium and we’ll continue to look for any way we can enhance that moving forward,” said San Francisco 49ers vice president of stadium operations and general manager, Jim Mercurio.
In opening the Faithful Farm, the 49ers have sent a signal to other NFL teams: Producing good quality food is about more than meeting fans’ needs. Rather, good quality food can also be about meeting corporate and civic responsibility.