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.

You may have seen this logo in the window of your favorite restaurant? It means that they are certified by Project Green Fork.

Have seen this logo in the window of your favorite restaurant? It means that they are certified by Project Green Fork.

 

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and the Project Green Fork team.

Executive Director Margot McNeeley (center) and the Project Green Fork team.

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.

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“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.”

 

Out with the old ... Newly acquired modern recycling containers moved to this location for PGF in March 2013.

Out with the old … Newly acquired, modern recycling containers for PGF arrived in March 2013.

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:

 

Gelato at PGF-certified Yolo frozen yogurt and other delights.

Gelato at PGF-certified Yolo frozen yogurt and other delights.

 

(r to l) Nutella and Tiger Butter;

Two of my favorite combinations at Yolo: (r to l) Nutella and Tiger Butter or Salted Caramel mixed with Mascarpone–decadant, This fun stop and many others featured in SB Food Finds in April 2013 are already on Margot’s list!

 

Wild Salmon over Spinach Salad at Just for Lunch, "PGF Restaurant of the Month" in 2013.

Wild Salmon over Spinach Salad at Just for Lunch, PGF Restaurant of the Month in March 2013.

 

Sunshine cupcakes at Muddy's Bake Shop

Sunshine cupcakes at Muddy’s Bake Shop

 

Lemon custard vegan cupcake and walnut "meatloaf" at Fuel Cafe, May 2013 "PGF Restaurant of the Month."

Lemon Custard Vegan Cupcake and Walnut “Meatloaf” at Fuel Cafe, May 2013 PGF Restaurant of the Month.

 

Find a Project Green Fork restaurant near you.

Find a Project Green Fork restaurant near you by clicking here.

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.”

Cookbook by Chef Ben Smith, native Memphian and PGF's first recruit.

Cookbook by Chef Ben Smith, native Memphian and PGF’s first recruit. www.pelicanpub.com

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.

 

BBQ plate from PGF-certified Central BBQ. Image taken at a PGF fall 2012 fundraiser, "Loving Local."

BBQ plate from PGF-certified Central BBQ, served at a PGF fall 2012 fundraiser, “Loving Local.”

 

The PGF 5th Annual Spring Supper Fundraiser at Felicia Suzanne's downtown is Monday, June 10. Margot recommends that you go ahead and take Tuesday off too!

The PGF 5th Annual Spring Supper Fundraiser at Felicia Suzanne’s downtown is Monday, June 10, 2013. Margot recommends that you go ahead and take Tuesday off too!

For more information about PGF events and certified restaurants, visit www.projectgreenfork.org