Walnut Way Conservation Corp.
2240 N. 17th St., Milwaukee
Walnut Way Conservation Corp. takes an inside out approach to reforming Milwaukee’s Lindsay Heights neighborhood. The organization believes neighbors play a crucial part in the design and execution of programs intended to address the challenges they face in the community.
Since its beginnings, Walnut Way has incorporated creative and intentional strategies to engage its community in creating a shared vision and actionable plan for bettering the community.
The organization continues to expand its job training and employment opportunity programs, including its Blue Skies Landscaping company, which was formed in 2012 to serve as a source of employment for neighborhood residents who have historically faced employment challenges.
Today, the workforce development program not only provides jobs and job training for area residents, but it also advances training in greening and food production and helps enhance neighborhood beautification efforts. The program produces healthy, locally sourced produce for retail locations throughout the community.
To date, Blue Skies Landscaping has hired more than 20 Lindsay Heights residents for jobs in landscaping and green construction, and it has become a sustainable source of earned revenue for the organization through the installation of gardens and fruit trees for harvesting and retail, maintenance of the Walnut Way campus, and through the execution of landscape contracts on private and public properties in the community.
In 2014, Blue Skies worked with the City of Milwaukee’s Home GR/OWN effort to build Ezekiel Gillespie Park at 14th and Wright Streets in Milwaukee. The park includes fruit trees, native plants and porous paver stones to capture rainwater for irrigation paths and storm water management.
Co-founders Sharon and Larry Adams personify the organization’s mission. By leveraging community resources, the two set out to create change and improve the Lindsay Heights community.