October 30, 2017

The Conservation Fund And U-Haul Make A Big Impact In Urban Atlanta

ATLANTA, Ga. — The Conservation Fund and U-Haul announced today the grant recipients of Growing Atlanta’s Green Economy Fund. Funded by U-Haul and its customers and administered by The Conservation Fund, the Growing Atlanta’s Green Economy Fund provides support to green or entrepreneurial programs working in some of the city’s most underserved neighborhoods, including English Avenue, Vine City, Peoplestown, Mechanicsville and Washington Park.

Grants of up to $10,000 have helped to train 16 home gardeners, 30 urban farmers and 12 high school students focused on tree care along Atlanta’s BeltLine. The program has also supported the production of nearly one and half tons of locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables and the creation of a small landscaping business that is working to maintain Atlanta’s parks thus far.

The Growing Atlanta’s Green Economy Fund is part of a three-year, $375,000 commitment by U-Haul to The Conservation Fund’s Parks With Purpose program, which brings together community members, a variety of nonprofit partners, businesses and city officials to build much-needed parks in Atlanta’s urban areas, including Lindsay Street Park – the first park in the English Avenue neighborhood – Vine City Park, Boone Park West and Atlanta’s first Urban Food Forest. These greenspaces not only provide a safe place for kids to play and community members to gather, but also improve stormwater management and flood control, increase access to healthy foods and create green jobs that will strengthen the local economy.

In the first two rounds, U-Haul and The Conservation Fund awarded $50,000 to eight grassroots organizations that are finding innovative ways to engage the community and address environmental, economic and social challenges.

“Support from U-Haul and The Conservation Fund has allowed Historic Westside Gardens to be more strategic in how we build ‘neighborhood economics’ around food supply,” said Gil Frank, Executive Director for Historic Westside Gardens. “By providing the resources needed to allow more home gardeners to join the cycle of producing food, we can ensure it is grown for the community and by the community.”

In addition to its support for green efforts in Atlanta, U-Haul has also made investments in urban parks in Detroit and Kansas City and, with donations from 1.7 million of its customers, has planted nearly 675,000 trees across the country.

“One of our core values is operating our business in a socially responsible manner,” said Stuart Shoen, Executive Vice President of U-Haul International. “We’re committed to the communities where we live and work, and we’re proud to partner with an organization as community-minded as The Conservation Fund. These grant recipients are driven to pursue innovative and meaningful projects to benefit their neighbors, and in doing so, are reflective of the entrepreneurial spirit that created and shaped U-Haul some 72 years ago. We’re very excited to see the social, economic and environmental impacts that these dedicated organizations will make across the Atlanta community.”

“I am blown away by the positive outcomes that our community partners have achieved using these impact dollars,” said Shannon Lee, Urban Conservation Manager for The Conservation Fund. “Thanks to U-Haul and its customers, our partners are creating jobs and training opportunities, managing greenspaces and producing local, healthy food across Atlanta. Together, we are growing a greener, more resilient economy in Atlanta and empowering communities and grassroots organizations to become sustainable entrepreneurs.”

Growing Atlanta's Green Economy fund grant winners: 

Atlanta Botanical Gardens will support the maintenance of the rain gardens and pollinator gardens at both Lindsay Street Park and Vine City Park through a partnership with Urban Greenscapes, a small business started by local youth with help from the Greening Youth Foundation, a previous grant recipient.

Concrete Jungle is a creative group of urban fruit-pickers and farmers that plans to expand fruit orchards and row crops at its Doghead Farm, which will employ residents to maintain the farm, provide educational opportunities to the broader community and yield fresh fruits and vegetables for local food pantries.

ECO-Action advocates for environmental health and community-driven social justice outcomes. ECO-Action will collaborate with Community Improvement Association and Box of Chocolates Media to organize creek cleanups and create media content on environmental issues and green infrastructure in Proctor Creek that can be shared with Parks with Purpose partners.

Greening Youth Foundation
, in partnership with Atlanta Botanical Garden and Atlanta Audubon Society, piloted an Agricultural & Conservation Entrepreneurship Program that recruited youth from West Atlanta and trained them in commercially-viable conservation activities. The participants created their own business, Urban Greenscapes, offering landscaping and green infrastructure services that have since been retained by Atlanta Botanical Gardens and other private companies.

provided 30 participants with a 14-week intensive training program to develop employable skills in urban agriculture, while improving access to high quality foods in underserved communities. The program culminated with the construction of two community garden spaces that are now producing nutritious fruits and vegetables. Twelve of the participants have gained employment through HABESHA and its partner organizations.

Historic Westside Gardens
is a two-time grant recipient. Previous funding supported the development of community-based farmers that produced a total of nearly 800 pounds of fresh produce in an area that suffers as a USDA food desert. Much of the produce was consumed by the growers to offset their grocery expenses. Surplus fruits and vegetables were sold at the Westside Growers Market, earning an additional support for the program. The next phase supports the purchase of tools and supplies so that more home growers can be included in the program.

R2L Community Blitz
serves the southside of Atlanta and employs local youth to provide reduced-priced landscaping services to low-income, disabled and senior citizen community members, and transforms vacant lots into community gardens and open spaces. Funds will be used to purchase equipment that will help expand operations.

Trees Atlanta, through its Youth Tree Team, launched a seven-week summer job training and leadership program for high school students that involved field study, work place success strategies and environmental education. The 12 students participated in beautification projects within the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum, including pulling 3,060 yards of invasive weeds from the BeltLine Trail, mulching over 500 trees, planting 275 new plants and watering an average of 425 trees weekly.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect nearly eight million acres of land.

About U-Haul
U-Haul was founded by a Navy veteran who grew up during the Great Depression. Tires and gas were still rationed or in short supply during the late 1940s when U-Haul began serving U.S. customers. Today, that background is central to the U-Haul Sustainability Program: “Serving the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Our commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle includes fuel-efficient moving vans, neighborhood proximity, moving box reuse, moving pads made from discarded material and packing peanuts that are 100% biodegradable. Learn more about these facts and others at uhaul.com/sustainability.

Since 1945, U-Haul has been the choice for the do-it-yourself mover. U-Haul customers’ patronage has enabled the Company to maintain the largest rental fleet in the do-it-yourself moving industry which includes trucks, trailers and towing devices. U-Haul also offers self-storage throughout North America. The Company provides industry leading moving and storage boxes and an extended line of packing supplies to protect customer possessions. U-Haul is the consumer’s number one choice as the largest installer of permanent trailer hitches in the automotive aftermarket. The Company supplies alternative-fuel for vehicles and backyard grills as one of the nation’s largest retailers of propane.   

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 | asimonelli@conservationfund.org 
Jeff Lockridge | U-Haul | 602-760-4941 ext. 523102 | Jeff_Lockridge@uhaul.com