Meet Lauren: Athens Program Manager

Meet Lauren Towe – Program Manager for our Athens branch of Concrete Jungle. With the University at its center, Athens can be a bit of a transitory town. But Lauren is one of those rare lifelong Athens natives, and her roots go deep in this community. 

As Program Manager, Lauren really does it all. She manages volunteers on the ground, scouts local fruit trees, maintains relationships with our partners at UGArden and Campus Kitchen, and coordinates farmers market and grocery collections (amongst a thousand other things). She’s A++ at juggling all the fruity things! 

She first got involved with CJ in the early stages of the pandemic in 2020. She told us about her journey, saying “I was looking for something where I could meet people, get outside, and give back to the community. Concrete Jungle fit all of those things for me, so that was really awesome. I became a pick leader. And then I became the program associate. Then I became the program manager. So it was a perfect timeline over the course of just a few years, and I’ve loved every part of it.”

Lauren has thought about her relationship to food for a long time, becoming a vegetarian at a young age. In her childhood, she would often visit her grandmother’s garden in South Carolina, where she grew up among the tomatoes, squash, okra, green beans, apple trees, and blueberry bushes. She’s fortunate to have always known the joy of homegrown food. But her connection to the local food community bloomed out of her experiences at the University of Georgia, studying ecology and sustainability. 

We asked her for her favorite thing about CJ, and she said, “My favorite thing has to be connecting people with plants and their surroundings. Introducing people to brand new fruits is so cool. Like when the volunteers try a fig for the very first time while they’re on a pick with us – I think that is just such a great bonding experience.”

This year for #GivingTuesday, we need your help! Our fruit tree map – an inventory of 4,200+ trees in Atlanta and Athens – needs a little TLC. With your help, we will be able to make much-needed upgrades to our map software, so that we can continue getting the freshest produce to families in need. 

Lauren relies on the fruit tree map to do her weekly scouting work, and she’s excited about the potential the map has for the public. She said, “It’s a great community tool. We could be a whole community that’s out scouting instead of just one individual personally going out and finding all these trees.”

Learn more and help us map the way to a fruitier future at