Category Archives: Sustainability

Sign up for Weed Wrangle and support our local green spaces!

Join Weed Wrangle’s nation-wide effort to save our native plants. On Saturday, March 5, 10 local parks and nature centers are gathering volunteers to pull weeds and keep the invasive plants at bay.

This important work needs to be done annually so that our native plant communities can keep up their hard work of helping control erosion, moderate floods, filter water, decrease water needed for landscaping, and sequester carbon to combat climate change.
Ready to get started?

Pick a location below and sign up! Interested in learning more? Click here.

Volunteers Honor Veterans Day through Service

111016_OSDTN Veterans Day Cummins_wm-14.jpgIn honor of Veterans Day, Hands On Nashville and a team of Cummins volunteers made energy-efficiency and home improvements to support Operation Stand Down Tennessee‘s Transitional Housing Program.  Continue reading Volunteers Honor Veterans Day through Service

Cummins Home Energy Savings Project Recap!

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On Thursday, June 16, a group of 12 Cummins volunteers arrived at Ms. York-Waters’ home for a special Home Energy Savings “Plus” project.

Hands On Nashville’s Home Energy Savings (HES) Program engages volunteers to improve the energy efficiency of homes, which on average saves homeowners $390 annually on their utility bills.

During this special, HES “Plus” project, Cummins volunteers not only set to work on improving the energy efficiency inside the home, but made tremendous improvements to Ms. York-Waters yard, as well.

Before the project, the house was “leaking” a significant amount of air, meaning cool was air escaping into warm places, and warm air escaping to cold areas. This is in large part due to an addition to the house made many years ago. Leaking air is one of the main causes of high energy bills, as it requires HVAC units to work harder throughout the year to maintain temperatures.

To remedy this issue, volunteers caulked around each window, and added weatherstripping around windows and doors. As soon as the volunteer set to work, they could tell the impact was going to be immense.

“It’s definitely going to help them out,” said volunteer Todd Browning. “Their house needs some TLC.”


Beyond the Home Energy Savings scope of work completed inside, Cummins volunteers set out to improve an outdoor portion of her home. After rain storms, large amounts of water pooled in one low-point in her yard, eventually leaking right into the lower level of the home. To remedy this issue, volunteers built a beautiful rain garden complete with native grasses and plants that will absorb water before it can reach the home.

One of the volunteers who helped build the garden was Kathy Pessefall, a Cummins employee who has helped on multiple HES projects now. When asked why she enjoys the process, Kathy simply said planting rain gardens is one of her favorite project activities.

“I like helping people, for one,” Kathy said. “But [i} also [volunteer] for my own selfish reasons. Since learning about rain gardens, I’ve taught multiple other people what I’ve learned!”

As the project drew to a close, Ms. York- Waters expressed sincere gratitude for all of Cummins hard work.

“I’m so glad you’re here, “Ms. York-Waters said. “I’ve learned a lot about my house, especially cobwebs and how they develop when there’s a lot of air coming into the home from outside; just last week we were discussing how they get there.”

“I learned a lot about how much air leakage we have and much about what we never knew about our home before today,” she said.

To learn more about the Home Energy Savings Program and how you can get involved, please visit

HES Homeowner Spotlight: The Arnetts


“My hope, of course, is that people see [the work of volunteers] and they want to continue it… the hope is that it has a ripple effect.”

Meet the Arnetts, a family of four, who live in South Nashville. Volunteers brightened this young, growing family’s home in the winter of 2014 through the Home Energy Savings (HES) Program. Volunteers have made over 275 homes more energy efficient through this program, saving homeowners an estimated $275,000 since 2011.

Here is the Arnetts’ Story:

“In a city where affordable housing is getting harder and harder to come by, I think Hands On Nashville is one of those few [agencies] working from a different angle in trying to make living in Nashville more affordable,” observed Ryan, a father, husband, and HES homeowner. He explains how saving energy ultimately leads to saving money.


Saving money is crucial for HES homeowners, who earn an average of 50% below the city’s median family income. Metro Social Services reports that utility cost assistance is the most frequently identified unmet community need in Nashville. Hands On Nashville’s HES Program seeks to address that need through volunteerism.

Hands On Nashville’s HES program is made possible by hundreds of volunteers each year, many of whom come from local businesses. During the Arnett project, employees from Cummins blew in attic insulation, caulked windows and doors, and upgraded lighting and plumbing fixtures in just four short hours. “It’s cool to see folks that work together on a regular basis come together to do something beneficial for their immediate community,” Ryan adds. “Their heart was in it, which is the most important part.”

Being a self-employed contractor at the time of the project, Ryan was able to share some of his own knowledge with the volunteers: “It was fun to share a little bit of know-how with folks who wanted to do something good for someone else.” If it were not for the volunteers, Ryan notes, installing insulation and air sealing would still be on his to-do list today. “If I could say anything to the volunteers, it would be thank you.”

Keep the Energy Flowing!

As Ryan reflected on the impact of this project, he made it clear that this is only the beginning. “My hope, of course, is that people see [the work of volunteers] and they want to continue it… the hope is that it has a ripple effect.”

Be a part of that ripple.

Be a light. Give a light.

Support Hands On Nashville through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s #BigPayback on May 3!

We thank you!

Green Break 2016 Recap!

This group put in a valiant effort on 50K tree day! On Feb. 27, 2016, university groups, high school students, corporate teams, and more came together to plant 378 trees during the statewide effort to plant 50,000. The 378 trees HON volunteers planted will offset an estimated 1,631.1 tons of carbon over time.

What better way to spend spring break than helping out in the great outdoors?

Over the course of the last month, Hands On Nashville had the opportunity to work with hundreds of volunteers from across the country to complete 13 meaningful projects supporting our environment. Now that’s what we like to call a “Green Break!” Continue reading Green Break 2016 Recap!

Serving Those Who’ve Served: Home Energy Savings Event Supports Veterans

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In honor of Veterans Day, Hands On Nashville partnered with Operation Stand Down Tennessee (OSDTN) to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of homes in which Veterans live.

During each of the four projects, Veterans volunteered their time to support their fellow servicemen and servicewomen.

Continue reading Serving Those Who’ve Served: Home Energy Savings Event Supports Veterans

Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Earns International Award!

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We’re pleased to announce Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program earned third place in the teaching youth category for the 2015 INUAg Innovators in Urban Agriculture Prize! This award recognizes schools or youth focused programs working with children and teens to teach them urban farming.

To learn more about this international honor and view other recipients working to improve urban agriculture across the globe, click here.

Crop City 2015 – Final Recap!

071515_Crop City-3Time flies when you are having fun (and gardening and cooking delicious fresh food!). It’s been a great summer of learning, gardening, and eating at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm. For six weeks, our 2015 Urban Agriculture Teaching lead their peers through a hands-on curriculum that aimed to positively impact knowledge and behavior around eating. They did a wonderful job!

Here’s a few numbers that help tell the story:

  • Participants hours at Crop City : 2,800+
  • Pounds of produce harvested: 300+
  • Number of Teaching Interns: 12

And while it won’t show up in any numbers or future learning menu, we shared a lot of laughs, games, smiles, and good food with a great group of participants.

Here’s a sampling of the lessons taught in the latter half of the Crop City summer. Continue reading Crop City 2015 – Final Recap!