Delivering Garden Veggies by Bicycle

Thanh -- May 11th, 2010

This is a continuation of a series of posts for Bike Month.

Adam Campbell & Beth Schermerhorn showing off their collection of mixed salad, bronze fennel, and chive blossoms.

Adam Campbell & Beth Schermerhorn showing off their collection of mixed salad, bronze fennel, and chive blossoms.

The weather was wet, but as I arrived at the Muddy Bikes Garden, Adam Campbell and Beth Schermerhorn were collecting a variety of lettuces, bronze fennel, and chive blossoms and getting them packed into a basket to deliver the order of mixed salad to the Little Grill Collective. Muddy Bikes always delivers fresh produce to customers, which are generally local restaurants, by bicycle. Schermerhorn used a bungee to secure the basket of salad to her rear bike rack and pedaled away to make her delivery. When it is peak season, you might see them making their deliveries with a bicycle trailer.

2010 is the third season in which Muddy Bikes is operating. The project is a family effort with friends and volunteers.  New Community Project leads the effort, as the garden exists at the home of one of its staff members. Our Community Works, a non-profit subsidiary of Our Community Place “that exists to provide good and meaningful work for our community members”, generally sends two people, two times a week, for about 4 hours each day to help with the garden. Additional help comes from school groups from Eastern Mennonite School and High School, Bridgewater College,  James Madison University students as part of a class or for community service hours.

The garden's rabbit in his home, the garden.

The garden's rabbit in his home.

The garden surrounds the home in the front and backyard. There is a greenhouse in which seedlings are started before it gets warm enough outside, beautiful fences supporting pea plants, a rabbit (who’s name I can’t remember) who hangs out in in his cage where he “naturally” fertilizers the garden as his raised cage gets pushed around the garden, four compost bins, three rain barrels… truly an example of urban/suburban gardening’s possibilities.

Tom Benevento explained to me that there are plans to move the work to the 715 North Main Street house which is anticipated to be zoned, if not already, for non-profit status.

Campbell and Schermerhorn told me that they have plans to expand the Muddy Bike Garden project to include bringing a bike trailer full of fresh produce to sell in neighborhoods who’s community members generally do not have access to fresh produce. They explained to me that although Harrisonburg does not have severe “food deserts” – a term used to define urban areas that lack supermarkets and access to healthy food – like other areas around the country do, that Harrisonburg residents in some neighborhoods do have difficulty getting to and from grocery stores.

A federal government study reported that a quarter of low-income households lack access to a vehicle…  Taking the bus to a distant grocery store costs time; carrying bags is cumbersome; and taxis are expensive, so “people are willing to spend 30 to 100 percent more at the corner store,”…  A University of California paper reported that for people without vehicle access, distance, not price or selection, determines the choice of a food store.  When residents of low-income communities are asked to rank factors that influence where they shop, convenience is number one, followed by quality and then price.

(Source: “Urban Farmers Provide Nourishment in Low-income Neighborhoods” By Krishna Ramanujan)

Beth Schermerhorn getting ready to delivery the mixed salad by bicycle

Beth Schermerhorn getting ready to deliver the mixed salad by bicycle

As the growing season continues, the garden will produce lettuce, potatoes including red and purple, heirloom tomatoes, collard greens, kale, onions, leeks, beets, carrots, basil, beans, summer squash, swiss chard, spinach, cabbage, greens, parsley, cilantro, etc., and you can find The Muddy Bikes Garden selling their produce at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market on Saturday mornings and Thursday evenings.

Author’s note: I made some corrections to the story. The work occurring at the home featured is not an income based business venture, but a family effort with friends and volunteers coming to help. There are plans to move the work to the 715 N. Main Street house, which is anticipated to be zoned for non-profit status.

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