Concrete Jungle

City of Atlanta, Fulton County

By Katherine Kennedy

What’s amazing about Atlanta’s agricultural history is that many of these fruit trees remain in the city today. A family, many decades ago, planted an apple tree intending to provide an easily stored sweet treat for their family all winter long. And many of these trees still exist in the city today as the longest living connection to our agricultural roots.

Concrete Jungle exists to continue on the tradition of feeding families these nutrient dense reminders of our agricultural heritage. In our past 10 years, we have found 3,200 fruit trees around the city.

These trees are leaning up against furniture stores, growing peacefully in the median between 285 and an exit ramp, persisting in cracks in the pavement in old parking lots, in residential developments, in parks, in right-of-ways, on the Beltline.

And while I want to celebrate the amazing abundance of fresh fruit that grows here in the city, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t speak for a moment on the deep need we have for fresh fruit and vegetables in our food insecure communities.

Concrete Jungle provides over 25,000 pounds of fresh produce each year to soup kitchens and food pantries around the city and state. But 19% of adults and 29% of kids in our city are food insecure. That means there are a LOT of families in this city lining up to get whatever sort of food they can from their local church, soup kitchen or food pantry.

Do you know what they see most often at these places? Canned, processed, boxed foods--and if they see any fresh produce--it’s usually discarded from a grocery store because it’s too rotted, wilted or old to sell. Meanwhile we are sitting on a LITERAL goldmine of fruit trees and growable land that could be used to solve this problem.

The solutions are here--in fact probably many of the folks with the key components to helping solve this problem are in here this room. I hope that you will take a moment tonight to think about how you, where you are right now can be a part of helping solve this problem.

How can we work together to make sure everyone in metro Atlanta has access to fresh healthy food?