Project Green Fork (PGF) is a small organization making a big difference in the Mid-South. Executive Director Margot McNeeley and the restaurants on board with PGF are cultivating a “green” dining landscape in Memphis. Five years ago, Margot worked closely with the staff of her first PGF-certified restaurant, Tsunami, to introduce PGF. She has been guiding area restaurants in an eco-conscious direction ever since. There are currently 55 PGF-certified restaurants in the Mid-South.
PGF contributes to a sustainable Mid-South by helping reduce environmental impacts, with a focus on strengthening homegrown restaurants. During the six-step process, restaurants learn to reduce waste by means of education, communication, assistance and, ultimately, certification.
“Helping restaurants reduce waste reduces landfill space,” Executive Director Margot McNeeley explains. “I formed the program because restaurants create more waste than any other retail sector, but the city doesn’t offer a service to help them recycle.” The staff of Project Green Fork focuses on diverting kitchen waste and turning that waste into compost. “We also insist that the restaurants we work with do away with Styrofoam and replace toxic cleaners with non-toxic cleaners. This helps keep our waterways cleaner.”
PGF’s most recent recruit is Memphis’ distinctive and popular Hop & Hominy restaurant on Brookhaven Circle. Also this year, PGF is featuring a “PGF Restaurant of the Month” in collaboration with Andy Wise on “Andy’s Restaurant Scorecard.” The May PGF Restaurant of the Month is Fuel Cafe. They filmed the segment Tuesday, and it will air Thursday, May 9 at 10pm on Action News 5. Recent PGF Restaurants of the Month this spring have been Just for Lunch in Chickasaw Oaks Village (March) and Interim in East Memphis (April). So many of your favorite stops are already on Margot’s list:
PGF certifies restaurants as practicing sustainability based on six steps: Have sustainable products in place; set up a recycling program; implement kitchen composting; replace toxic cleaners with non-toxic cleaners; complete an energy audit and take necessary steps to reduce energy and water consumption; and engage in pollution prevention. McNeeley asserts, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people tell me they choose where to dine based on who is signed on with PGF. We’ve consulted with churches, schools and even yoga studios but we only certify restaurants.”
PGF’s next big event, their annual Spring Supper, is coming up in June. The first was in ’09, held at their first certified restaurant, Tsunami. The 5th annual Spring Supper will be on June 10 at Felicia Suzanne’s downtown.
For more information about PGF events and certified restaurants, visit www.projectgreenfork.org