Meggie serves as the Program Expansion and Communications VISTA for Concrete Jungle. Concrete Jungle is an Atlanta-based nonprofit that transforms overlooked and underutilized fruit trees and land into a healthy food source for communities in need. Partnering with dozens of local organizations to distribute produce, Concrete Jungle engages volunteers in gleaning fruit from trees and operating an urban farm.
The bulk of Concrete Jungle’s recovered produce each year comes from harvests that take place at larger orchards and farms. These harvests, called Adventure Picks, take volunteers out of the city and directly to the source of food – and food waste. Commercial farms waste up to 40% of their harvest due to factors like the unpredictability of yields, as well as customer preference for uniform-looking produce. However, farmers are often open to sharing their excess produce so that it can be enjoyed the way they intended. Gleaning organizations can multiply their impact with one event by partnering with large, commercial growers.
Concrete Jungle’s biggest adventure pick to date took place in late June on a rural South Georgia corn farm. Together with dozens of volunteers from other local hunger relief organizations, they picked 25,000 pounds of corn in three hours. Volunteers from smaller local food pantries were invited to come harvest and take home the fresh corn.
In order to draw out of town volunteers from Atlanta to an Adventure Pick three hours from home, Concrete Jungle hosted a picnic and a visit to a lake after the pick is over. To engage local residents, Concrete Jungle reached out to volunteer organizations like the Scouts and Rotary Club. The adventure pick was a success due to advance planning, collaboration with local organizations, and an established relationship with a generous farmer.