We find trees through a variety of sources: people contacting us to donate their trees, word of mouth, and through spotting and identifying trees from our daily wanderings around Atlanta. Finding new trees really gets under way in late March as plants start flowering and gets easier throughout the year as fruits start to appear and tree branches become bright and heavy.
Once a tree is found, it gets added to our database. It is cataloged according to its public/private status, and basic information is recorded about it: latitude, longitude, type of fruit, and notes about the property (tastiness, owner contact information, harvesting requirements, etc.).
Once we successfully harvest from a tree, we record the date of harvest, amount collected, and if our harvest was early, on-time or late. This lets us build up a profile of trees and helps us predict when the tree will be ripe in the coming years.
Scouting is the most logistically-intense part of Concrete Jungle, and the one with which we need the most help.
It basically involves matching the schedules of people and plants. Scouting is the planning necessary for orchestrating each group pick, and we have to find what trees are ready to be harvested and line up permission for each one. We consult our database for when certain trees were picked in previous years, and check on newer trees to decide the best date to get them. This is generally limited to a small area of the city to minimize driving. Plant schedules can make things pretty hectic, as some will ripen and drop their fruit off-schedule from other trees nearby.
The business end of Concrete Jungle. We pick fruit from May through October, and from July onward we pick at least every weekend. We generally meet Sunday morning at a predetermined spot and pick from several different locations. Generally picks last 2-3 hours and may involve climbing trees, relaxing in the sun, and getting hit with the occasional falling apple.
Sorting and cleaning can be a simple wash and once-over, or it can be some real TLC and scrubbing. We will at the very least wash the harvest and remove twigs, leaves and unacceptable fruit. At the most, we will polish each piece by hand. We have dreams of a a large, bristle-lined rotating drum that will automate much of this for us, but for now we do it the old-fashioned way. We bag up our good stuff, weigh it and record it. We discard/freeze the rest.
Sorting/Cleaning is an area in which Concrete Jungle actively needs help. We are looking for a kitchen space (Department of Agriculture certified is a plus) within the city as a meeting point for sorting/cleaning after harvesting.
After sorting, we send it off to one of our partner organizations. It’s pretty nice to have a bunch of people shout “hey, it’s the fruit man!” upon showing up with the week’s donations.
Rinse and repeat. If you’re interested in working with Concrete Jungle, most people go for the picking, but it can be said with no uncertainty that we need folks every step of the way. Get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.