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Meet Pastor Chad: Hunger Relief Partner at Mercy Community Church

Meet Pastor Chad of Mercy Community Church. Pastor Chad started Mercy over 17 years ago, with service as its core mission. Mercy was one of the first sites to receive Concrete Jungle’s produce when we began 12 years ago. 

Pastor Chad explains, “Waking up in the morning, coming in, preparing breakfast, and serving it to people who are hungry seems very direct. And it’s not one group of people doing something for another group of people. It’s us, working together to do something. It’s really about building community. We’re all working together to try to care for one another, respect one another, carve out spaces of justice and dignity and peace and wellbeing.

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Meet Shelley: Atlanta Volunteer

Meet Shelley Rose, a dedicated Concrete Jungle volunteer. Shelley worked extensively with Concrete Jungle on our food delivery programs during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Shelley moved around growing up, but her family eventually came to Atlanta during her senior year of high school. After some time away pursuing her own education, she returned to make Atlanta her home and has never looked back. It was her connection to her synagogue that put her in touch with Concrete Jungle. 

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Meet Scott: Tree Donor

Meet Scott! He lives in a unique neighborhood in Norcross called Adams Vineyard – a neighborhood with an amazing history and TWO HUNDRED muscadine vines.

“I believe there’s about 15 different varieties of muscadines. They were planted by Colonel John Adams. After serving in three wars, when he came home, his wife had polio. And so he wanted to be close to her. He started putting some shoots in over the years…. it turned into this with 200 vines. Now, there’s about 60 homes that form a loop road around this green space and conservation area, and there’s vines in the neighborhood that have been here over 80 years. It’s quite unique and we’re very fortunate to live with this beautiful space.”

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Meet Tulsi: Athens Volunteer

Meet Tulsi TenEyck, one of Concrete Jungle Athens’ dedicated volunteers. Tulsi is passionate about the Athens community, as this town has been her home for 15 years.  She loves to learn about plants in the area and to create a greater sense of community and connection with her surroundings.  

Tulsi first found Concrete Jungle through CJ’s Edible Landscape Walk in May 2022 that highlighted fruit trees on the University of Georgia campus. As she explains, “We got to meet all kinds of fruit and nut trees. And it just rocked my world. It opened up my eyes to some information that I’ve been really yearning for and looking for – to learn what is growing around us. And I was just like, ‘oh my gosh, these are my people. This is how I’d like to spend my time.’ So it was after that campus walk, I was hooked.”

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Meet Adam Hicks: Field Manager

We managed to snag some time with Concrete Jungle’s Field Manager, Adam Hicks, to chat about all things fruit and community. As Field Manager, Adam leads our weekly in-town fruit picks as well as our monthly adventure picks. 

Adam is also responsible for figuring out where the food we harvest will be donated. He also leads our Produce Education and Enjoyment Loop (PEEL) program. Adam explains, “PEEL is our educational programming so that the people we’re serving have a better understanding of the value of the food, whether it’s nutritional value or how to prepare it. That way, they’re more likely to take it and use it once they receive it.” 

Adam’s role is unique in that he’s truly involved in the whole Concrete Jungle (CJ) process, from tree to table. He organizes volunteers to harvest the produce, figures out where the produce is going to go, and then coordinates or leads cooking demos. 

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Meet Nichole: Director of Programs & Operations

Meet Nichole Fields-Kyle, Concrete Jungle’s Director of Program and Operations. Nichole is responsible for supporting our staff on the ground as well as overseeing all the behind-the-scenes operations that provide fresh food for our community.

Like many other CJ staff, Nichole got her start with Concrete Jungle as a volunteer. Nichole is a transplant by way of California and New York. When she arrived in Atlanta, she immediately looked for a way to get her hands dirty. 

As she puts it, “I came that first day to volunteer and was fresh off the plane, maybe 4 days into living in Atlanta. And I actually met one of our other coworkers there, who was also a volunteer at the time. He asked me such great questions about myself. Not like, ‘So, what do you do for fun? ‘or ‘What do you do for work?’, but really wanting to get to know me. After that, I took the MARTA train for an hour to get to the farm every other Saturday during my first year living here. Just because of that sense of community. I didn’t know anyone here, but all of these people were coming together to sweat for two hours, to do this volunteer work, and they really cared whether I showed up or not.

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CJ Partner: Ernesta Ingram with Southwest Ecumenical Emergency Assistance Center

For over 30 years the Southwest Ecumenical Emergency Assistance Center, or SWEEAC, has assisted hundreds of families by delivering whole, quality foods to those who need it in the Metro Atlanta area. In total, they have supported 50,000 families and distributed over 1 million lbs of food to families across the state of Georgia. Additionally, SWEEAC encourages families to focus on their spiritual, mental and physical health with the goal to empower clients with the tools to be self-sufficient and productive members of society — which they do well. 

With all the good SWEEAC does for the community, it’s supporters like Ernesta Ingram, an ex-executive who decided to spend her time giving back to Atlanta by providing food assistance to disadvantaged families that make nonprofits specializing in food insecurity thrive. Ernesta was instrumental during the Concrete Jungle Covid Grocery Delivery Program, and she has been an enthusiastic ally in the food insecurity area.

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PEELing Off! And Meet Claire!

My name is Claire Fendrick, and I am the new PEEL Program lead here at Concrete Jungle! I am a second year Masters student at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. During my senior year of college, I developed a deeper interest in the food justice movement, and decided that it was the field in which I hoped to explore when I moved to Atlanta for grad school. This interest led me to Concrete Jungle, where I’ve been working since the fall of 2020. During the 2020-2021 school year, I co-led the COVID-19 Grocery Delivery Program from September to June. Now that we’ve wrapped up GDP, I’m moving on to helping the transition back into PEEL programming for the fall!   

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Climate on Our Minds

‘Climate on Our Minds’ is part of the Georgia Climate Stories series, highlighting climate impacts and solutions from across the state.

Georgia wastes approximately 2 million tons of food every year. When food decomposes in landfills, it emits highly potent greenhouse gases. Concrete Jungle’s harvests helps our climate too!

Check out this short video by Georgia Climate Project featuring Concrete Jungle. ‘Climate on Our Minds’ is part of the Georgia Climate Stories series, highlighting climate impacts and solutions from across the state.

To explore other stories, visit: http://stories.georgiaclimateproject.org/

CJ Family: Jeanie Driscoll

One of the most vibrant parts of Concrete Jungle is our Program Assistant Jeanie. Jeanie is so full of life, has never met a stranger and can make ANYONE laugh. Jeanie got to know Concrete Jungle while shopping at SWEEAC (Southwest Ecumenical Emergency Assistance Center). “I would come to the cooking classes and I just adored Lauren who was leading the class.  There was lots of camaraderie in the cooking classes, and I put it out there that I wanted to help. I’ve always wanted to be helpful and I saw an opportunity with CJ.”  

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