Health Team

New garden at Bulls stadium adds veggies, education to game day

Posted April 10, 2018 9:15 a.m. EDT
Updated April 10, 2018 10:51 a.m. EDT

— The crack of the bat at Durham Bulls' ballpark is a welcome sign of spring, but the start of baseball season is also the start of the growing season for fruits and vegetables.

The Bulls want to make sure the two go hand-in-hand.

The Durham Bulls Athletic Park offers a wide array of sights and sounds both inside and outside its walls. This season, many Bulls fans will walk past the new Victory Garden.

The garden's purpose is to show how easy it is to grow healthy, accessible food in urban settings, which health experts say is especially important for children who grow up without many of the fruits and vegetables their bodies and brains need.

"When kids are going to school and they're hungry, a lot of times they are not able to focus," said Cheryl Parquest, the director of community relations for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.

Parquet and Cindy Sink, from the Interfaith Food Shuttle, say the Bulls' garden, and others like it in the seven-county area, can help feed 60,000 adults and children per month. Organizers want children to discover that healthy produce doesn't just appear on grocery shelves

"A lot of times you see things in the stores, the things are packaged, but they're going to be able to see it grow from the ground up," Parquet said.

Said Sink: "The more they understand where their food comes from, then the more likely they are to eat it."

Sink said the Victory Garden will have all the veggies people expect to find on a salad or on a pizza: lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes and a variety of herbs and spices.

The key to the success of these gardens, though, is bringing the harvest to local food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. Different food teaching programs in the area also serve more than 5,500 adults and children a year.

Getting the food to those who need it requires the help of many volunteers, though.

"It takes multiple strategies to end hunger," Sink said. "Hunger is a very complex issue rooted in poverty and all the issues that cause poverty."

The Victory Garden at the DBAP is just the start of a big hunger-fighting campaign called "THRIVE NC," which is led by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and the Interfaith Food Shuttle.