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Old 10-12-2009, 07:36 AM   #1
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Default Floral shop freeze-dries stadium's turf

Floral shop freeze-dries stadium's turf

MOUNT KISCO - On the walls at Forever in Bloom are glass cases displaying bridal bouquets of roses, orchids and peonies that have been freeze-dried so they'll stand the test of time.

In a back room are samples of other mementos that have also been preserved for perpetuity - little circular patches of grass from the original Yankee Stadium.

Shelley Andreades, Forever in Bloom's co-owner, said their job of freeze-drying the old Yankees sod melds well with the business' work of preserving memories.

"I'm a huge Yankee fan," Andreades said. "That's how I feel about it - thrilled and honored."

The Mount Kisco-based business so far has freeze-dried about 10,000 patches of grass from the former stadium so it can be sold on sports memorabilia Web sites, including Steiner Sports - a New Rochelle-based business.

The 3-inch diameter circles of sod are selling for $100 each, said A.J. Romeo, the head of product development at Steiner Sports. They come in a glass case with a nameplate noting they are "genuine sod from the field of the original Yankee Stadium."

"If you think about all the memories and moments that happened at Yankees Stadium, it wasn't only Yankees' players that were part of those moments," said Romeo, who heads up his business' partnership with the New York Yankees. "It gives people (the fans) the opportunity to take home a piece of that history."

Web sites for the Yankees and Steiner Sports bill the soil as "Your personal piece of pin-striped real estate."

Around the beginning of this year, Andreades said her business was approached about the possibility of preserving the turf, which is kept alive at a sod farm on Long Island before it's freeze-dried.

"We're the only freeze-dryer that I know of in the tri-state area," Andreades said. "This is a real specialty business."

They first had to run sample tests to see if the dehydration process would work.

"We tried it out, and it looked great," Romeo said.

In April, Forever in Bloom really got started freeze-drying the grass patches, which are shipped down to Steiner Sports after going through the dehydration process.

It takes about two weeks to freeze-dry the turf, Andreades said. They start by chilling it to 10 degrees below zero. Water is extracted from the chamber where the grass is kept and comes out as ice chunks in another chamber. The sod is very slowly brought to room temperature.

When it's done, the moisture is gone and the patches are very fragile, Andreades said.

"Anything that still has moisture in it will start to eventually mold and decompose, but when you extract all the moisture from a product then its aging process stops," Andreades said.

Asked about how the soil is selling Romeo replied "we've done very well with it."

The Yankees are in the midst of a division series playoff battle against the Minnesota Twins.

When told about the efforts to sell the dehydrated dirt, sports memorabilia merchant Mark Rubin said it sounded like something that would appeal to people wanting to get a gift for someone they know who is a Yankees fan.

Rubin, owner of American Legends in Scarsdale, didn't think it would have as much of an appeal for hard-core collectors.

"It's more of a mass market item than kind of a veteran collector type of item," Rubin said.

Andreades said she may buy one herself.

"It's a great thing to have," Andreades said. "It's a memory. It's a piece of history."

Floral shop freeze-dries stadium's turf | | The Journal News
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