Concrete Jungle Gleans Scuppernongs and Muscadines at Koinonia Farm

Published 8:11 pm Saturday, August 26, 2023

Concrete Jungle, an Atlanta-based organization that gleans unwanted or extra produce, came to Koinonia farms to harvest muscadines and scuppernongs. Volunteers gathered in a field behind one of Koinonia’s pecan orchards to pick the red muscadines and pale scuppernongs.
Adrianna Ruiz, the Atlanta Branch manager, talked about Concrete Jungle’s mission as she began filling a five-gallon bucket with grapes.
“Savannah and I helped to plan this pick together. Savannah is our farm rescue manager. She connects with a lot of our different farms to talk to them about gleaning.”
Ms. Ruiz told how even in Atlanta they were able to save food that would otherwise go to waste.
“There’s a lot of fruit trees in Atlanta. Essentially what we do is we help to get that fruit to people who are in food insecurity.”
She described how the organization had grown since its founding in 2011.
“It started, they had maybe one full time office person, and now we’re up to about six, plus we have a lot of part time people, a lot of volunteer base.”
Ms. Ruiz told how Concrete Jungle was able to partner with other organizations to distribute food including Jewish Community Family Services, Beloved Church, the Salvation Army, and several others.
“Locally in Atlanta, we have about eleven different partners. It’s all a wide swath of different missions.”
Concrete Jungle also teaches its clients how to use the food it donates.
“We don’t just stop at donating the produce.”
“We have a program called PEAL, which is the Produce, Education and Enlightenment Loop. We’ll go to the food banks, and we’ll give them education on whatever food we’re donating. We had the recipes cards for the muscadines in there and that’s what I’m sending to the local food bank.”
They also provide low price food direct from farmers.
“Another one of our programs is the produce buyer’s club. So what we do is partner with farms and get produce they can’t sell in stores. Either the size or the shape is irregular. And we sell that to our partners at a very discounted price.”
Savannah Carter, the farm recovery manager for Concrete Jungle, told more about their produce buyer’s club. Ms. Carter is based out of Tifton, and she mentioned that Concrete Jungle is hoping to expand its influence.
“We purchase off-grade produce. Produce that isn’t sold in the grocery store. It could be misshapen. It is sometimes known to us as seconds or culls or it’s often known as off-grade. That’s what we service our food pantries with.”
She told how their pick at Koinonia was different than usual.
“We’re here picking during the U-pick today at this time, because the dates worked out better, but usually we would go in after harvest.”
“We’ll coordinate it, we’ll bring volunteers, we’ll pick, and we’ll donate it locally.”
She told how they were hoping to raise awareness of their mission among local farmers.
“We deal with commercial farmers, but we also want to deal with the local farmers as well.”