ATLANTA -- Looking to increase access to fresh, healthful food for urban residents, the Braves will plant 20 community orchards in the metro Atlanta area over the next two months.
As part of their Season of Giving, the Braves will begin this initiative on Dec. 2, when All-Star catcher Travis d’Arnaud and his wife, Britney, will be on hand as 100 fruit trees are planted at Hyde Farm in Marietta, about 20 minutes northeast of Truist Park. The event is sponsored by Coors Light; more than 100 Braves employees will assist in the planting process.
"The impact of 100 trees planted in one day cannot be understated,” said Kate Conner, executive director of the Food Well Alliance. “The literal fruits of our labor will be multiplied to nourish Cobb County communities for years to come. We are so thankful this season for our roster of supporters making that happen; from our Atlanta Braves, to the Giving Grove, One Tree Planted and Players for the Planet.”
With assistance from The Giving Grove and Food Well Alliance, the Braves will fill 20 orchards with 300 fruit trees that will produce more than 13,000 servings each year. In addition to enhancing nutritional opportunities for Atlanta’s urban residents, this program will aid the environment. The orchards will absorb storm runoff water, preventing flash flooding and protecting the fresh water supply, while also helping to reduce urban air temperatures through carbon sequestration and the creation of shade.
“This initiative will not only help create a healthier, more sustainable Braves Country, it will also ensure sustainable sources of fresh food to combat food insecurity in our communities,” said Danielle Bedasse, Braves senior director of community affairs.
Bedasse was motivated to develop this initiative after visiting the Browns Mill Urban Forest, just south of downtown Atlanta. Seeing how this program provided fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts and berries to the community, she wanted to create similar opportunities within other food deserts around Atlanta.
One of the initiative’s influential contributors is former Major League outfielder Chris Dickerson, the founder of Players for the Planet, which was formed for professional athletes who want to aid the environment. Dickerson put the Braves in touch with One Tree Planted, a charitable foundation aimed toward planting trees across the globe.
“This project is a meaningful step forward to ensuring all communities have equitable access to the benefits of trees -- from mitigating the effects of climate change by reducing urban heat to providing fresh food and healthy recreational spaces like community orchards,” said Tanner Haid, senior manager of urban forestry at One Tree Planted. “We are proud of this partnership, and look forward to supporting more opportunities to plant trees and build community in Atlanta.”
Local residents will learn to become orchard stewards so they can help maintain, nurture and cultivate the community gardens within their area.
“What's really interesting about the concept of the food forest or the community garden is that the neighborhood does live off of it in a lot of ways, even from a jobs perspective,” Bedasse said. ”There was one woman at Browns Mill who takes care of all the herbs and lavender and actually uses those to produce candles and other kinds of products that she then sells to support herself. It’s also important to note that the food not used by the community is donated.”
Schools, community groups and urban agriculture organizations interested in hosting an orchard site are invited to apply at braves.com/sustain. A panel of community representatives coordinated by Food Well Alliance will evaluate and rank applications.