The largest box tree grower in the U.S., with over 40 retail locations across Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas, has undertaken major sustainability initiatives over the past year involving water consumption, clean energy, carbon emissions, and waste reduction.
Moon Valley Nurseries formed an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy in 2021 by creating a team of department representatives and executive leadership to guide and maintain the company’s commitment to positive corporate social responsibility. It published its first report in early August. Here are some highlights:
Water. Throughout 2021, Moon Valley implemented automatic watering systems to reduce water usage, minimized water runoff through catching basins, and educated customers and employees about water-saving tips. By the end of 2022, the ESG team will quantify water consumption rates by installing sub-meters to 50% of all points of connection at all active sites and will reach 100% of all active sites by the end of 2023.
Energy. Moon Valley installed its first on-site solar array in Escondido, CA, a feature that now powers 50% of that site’s operations. Additionally, all retail locations have been equipped with electric golf carts, and new delivery trucks were purchased, comprising approximately 36% of the fleet, that feature engines that automatically shut off after five minutes of idle time.
Carbon Emissions. Moon Valley has calculated its carbon emissions output and identified strategies to reduce its carbon footprint. During 2021, 80% of Moon Valley Nurseries trees sold were grown on company farms, and all Moon Valley Nurseries trees sequestered 197,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. This is almost 18 times the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by nursery operations. The ESG team will continue monitoring greenhouse gas emissions and identifying strategies to further reduce the carbon footprint in addition to phasing out 2-cycle gas-powered equipment for electric alternatives.
Waste Reduction. Waste minimization and recycling strategies have been incorporated into various company programs. This is achieved through recycling 100% of tree boxes in California, converting green waste and plant trimmings to mulch, and reusing over 90% of plastic pots to plant new seedlings. The Moon Valley Nurseries ESG team will continue to measure the tonnage of waste saved from landfills by company recycling programs and explore ways to expand the wood box recycling initiative beyond California. (Learn how one landscape firm transforms waste into rich organic matter in Soil Sustainability: Yard Waste Recycling.)
In addition to environmental initiatives, employee health and safety are a top priority for Moon Valley Nurseries. The ESG team will be conduct a 360˚ review of employee safety programs and certifications. In addition, the team will implement a quarterly employee training program, an employee-wellness program, and a review of the talent acquisition process.
“Our new ESG team has done a wonderful job examining our corporate social responsibilities and building out attainable metrics to enhance our employee and environmental programs,” said Brian Flood, CEO of Moon Valley Nurseries. “We’ve always put value in our people, community, and environment, and we are proud to begin monitoring these programs yearly to improve and address any gaps we see in our employee, community, and environment-conscious programs.”
Read how one landscaper transformed his practices to be greener in Journey to Sustainability.