Thursday, November 1, 2012

DC School Garden Bike Tour

Because I can't say no, apparently, a couple of months ago Sam over at the State Superintendent's office talked me into leading this year's DC School Garden Bike Tour -- the concluding event of Growing Healthy Schools Week. (Because DC Farm to School Week and DC School Garden Week 2012 were, go figure, the exact same week, somebody decided to combine the two. Incidentally, I also led two hands-on cooking classes for with students from Oyster Bilingual and Cap City Charter School for GHS earlier that same week. More on those entertaining lessons coming soon.)


[Photo courtesy of fellow cyclist, Jaqueline Hammond]

I could not have pulled it off without the help of my friends Kealy and Ariel, whose logistical and moral support proved invaluable as schools and routes shifted... again... and again... and Kenton, who fearlessly joined me on test rides between the schools, including that terrifying stretch that we decided to circumvent after white-knuckling it across the river on decidedly bike-unfriendly East Capitol. (Flashback, anyone?) I should know from the last time that organizing a group bike outing is like herding cats, but once again, on the day of the ride everything came together.

October 20th was perhaps the perfect cycling day -- bright, sunny, warm (in the sun), and with a bit of a breeze. More than 40 folks showed up at Kelly Miller School, the first of five of the finest school gardens our city has to offer. The majority of these folks joined me for the biking version of the tour that I led through Southeast and Northeast DC. Also included on the tour was Prospect Learning Center, winner of this year's "Golden Shovel" award (largely due to the inspiring essay written by one of the students, which I got to hear firsthand at the Kid Power celebration dinner a few nights later.)

At each stop, a garden manager or parent spoke about the green space's history, what was growing, and how students (and in some cases, staff) engage with the growing spaces. Most had raised garden beds bursting with vegetables and herbs, some had pollinator gardens. A few were specifically geared towards students with various physical and learning challenges. Some were integrated into the curriculum, while others were used primarily for after school programs. Each had a story to tell of challenges and successes. In truth, I think the story of the ride is best told by the video, shot by Francis over at BicycleSpace:

Special thanks to Jordan, whose bike-along stereo system made the bike tour the most fun thing ever. Nothing like 80s tunes to pep up an already great day. I may have to insist that all bike tours I organize going forward include a bikeable boombox. (Yep, I'm sure I'll get talked into organizing another one. Maybe a Bike the Breweries tour this spring?)

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