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Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Many Faces of Zero Waste

Waste is not only defined as items hauled off to landfills - waste comes with many faces including delicious edible food left to rot on untended urban trees.  Concrete Jungle comes to the rescue with their unique urban foraging mission.

The force underlying Concrete Jungle
Founded by Craig Durkin and Aubrey Daniels in 2009, Concrete Jungle explores Atlanta to find fruit bearing trees on public and private land and coordinates volunteers who harvest the fruit for donation to homeless shelters. To date, Concrete Jungle has cataloged over 1000 fruit bearing trees and donated 6,000+ pounds of local bounty to homeless shelters.

From over 800 world wide applicants, Concrete Jungle was awarded the November Awesome Food $1,000 micro-grant.   Awesome Food, a chapter of the Awesome Foundationmade its first monthly micro-grant award in October.
We picked Concrete Jungle because of what they’ve picked as their expertise — finding uses for fruit across Atlanta that otherwise would go to waste,” said Micki Maynard, creator of CulinaryWoman and an Awesome Food trustee. “At every step, this awesome project is helping someone or something. It aids the environment, by keeping the trees bountiful and healthy. It helps community groups with its donations of fruit, and allows them to do their work helping the hungry.”
Fruits are inspected and cleaned
before donation
The grant will be used for an eclectic set of tools to make fruit picking easier and more fun: bow and arrows to get ropes over high branches; sticks made by Nerf to hit fruit down from high places; inflatable pool rafts to cushion produce that falls from up high; a baby pool for people to sit in while they scrub apples; and hard hats to protect from falling fruit.
In addition, with leftover money, the group hopes to buy mini-apple grinders and juicers to make cider from apples that cannot be eaten whole.
Mercy Community Church is a fortunate recipient of Concrete Jungles's foraging program and received over 500 pounds of delicious fruit this year alone.
“What Concrete Jungle offers us is truly unique,” says Mercy Community Church Pastor Maggie Leonard. “They have figured out a simple, seemingly obvious, means of addressing the problem of hunger that plagues our city.  While most of our donations come from the waste of others, Concrete Jungle offers us delicious, fresh fruit that is fit to be eaten by anyone.”
Map of a golf course in Helen, GA who requested
Concrete Jungle to harvest the apples from their trees
Inherent within Maggie's statement is the dignity that comes along with the Concrete Jungle's mission - community coming together to help their fellow beings by harvesting urban fruit and donating it with love and care to those in a current less fortunate state.  How inspiring!
The Awesome Food blog post, Concrete Jungle, Atlanta urban fruit picking group, receives Awesome Food's November grant, gives details on the integrity of Concrete Jungle's harvesting, cleaning and donation program.

In the July, 2010 IMPACT Blog post, Urban Foraging: Taking Local & Sustainable to New Dimensions, honored Concrete Jungle as the July IMPACTOR for the same reasons Awesome Foods awarded the grant.

Organizations like Concrete Jungle are widening our perception of the local, healthy food in the midst of us everyday. It is also a reminder,food shortage is not the issue; equitable food distribution is the reason many go to sleep hungry and suffer from malnutrition. 

Thank you Awesome Food for your vision and commitment to assist those who are making important and unique contributions to humanity.

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