Years ago, I saw a post on Twitter about a first harvest from a garden being grown by employees of the company building the new Falcons stadium in Atlanta, called Mercedes Benz Stadium, which was supposedly going to be the “greenest” professional stadium in the nation. The garden was directly across from the stadium, in fact, in the construction trailer village. I asked if I could visit, and then rode my bike there. I met a very enthusiastic woman named Dawn Brown, who, in addition to her regular job, was tending about ten raised beds there, the harvests from which were about to be used in a culinary work skills development program. She started the garden to address what was an abundance of water from the construction process.
Fast forward to this week, when I had the opportunity to tour that stadium with General Manager Scott Jenkins (who arrived for work on bike, I might add), Elemental Impact Founder Holly Elmore, and, yes, Dawn Brown (pictured above), the woman who is now in charge of the entire tour operations there (which means managing tours for an average of 700 tour visitors a week with a staff of 41 tour guides; note that many tour guests are students, frequently from heavily impoverished schools for which tour funding is provided as required of stadium sponsors).
Turns out Dawn’s little garden program just grew and grew, and she now has eight or so enormous, permanent, raised beds (the harvest for which are still going to that culinary work skills program), plus a hedgerow of blueberry bushes currently heavy with fruit, on a prominent corner right in front of the stadium. And guess what is her most requested tour? Environmental science.
As for Mercedes Benz Stadium, it scored the highest number on its LEED application of any sports stadium in the world. It is worth noting that it received every point possible (88) for its responsible management of water.
Urban agriculture, green building, water conservation, and other attributes of resilience present themselves in many ways in the City of Atlanta. Come take the rubber-hits-the-road Sustainability-in-Action Bike Tour from Bicycle Tours of Atlanta and find out more about these growing movements.