Thursday, July 2, 2009

Beets Not Bombs

The highlight of my time in the Boston area was on Tuesday morning when I had the pleasure of working with a group of middle schoolers involved in the City Sprouts summer program (an initiative of the Cambridge Public School system that encourages community gardening in schools). Louise had invited me to talk a bit about my project and do a culinary lesson with her group of young gardeners at Graham & Park School, so after a tour of their lush green space, we flipped on the hot plate and got cooking. About fifteen minutes later, with the help of three willing and able sous chefs, we sat down together at the garden's picnic table to enjoy my favorite broccoli (complete with nuts, raisins, red pepper flakes, and garlic, but lacking tomatoes, as these were not yet in season). They were so great, the rising 7th and 8th graders, and while we ate they regaled me with descriptions of their favorite recipes and tales of field trips around the city that they had taken with the City Sprouts program. Afterwards, Ollie and I rode back through the drizzle along the lovely Charles River to Brookline and I proceeded to cook up a storm for a group dinner with Caron and her roommates. I love when friends let me take over their kitchens, and contrary to her claims of unpreparedness Caron had lots of interesting goodies for me to work with, including a tin of anchovies and a bottle of red wine. Yum.

After a visit to a less-than-welcoming local farm (which will remain nameless to protect its identity) with Caron on Wednesday, I made my way to Jamaica Plains to grab a bite at Cafe Ula -- good food, cantankerous staff -- with my friend Michelle before heading to Bikes Not Bombs. I hadn't seen Michelle since our days in AmeriCorps, so I was elated when she decided to join me at the peacenik bike co-op for one of the weekly volunteer nights. We chatted away as we sorted and packed crates of handlebars, bike chains, and other bits in preparation for an upcoming shipment of hundreds of bicycles and spare parts to Ghana next weekend. Good stuff. We even flattened our first bike to get it ready for loading. (Check out Michelle wielding the wrench!)

Speaking of bikes, I needed to get Ollie looked at after 9 1/2 weeks of rain and an unfortunate series of city potholes began to elicit odd new sounds. Things were bustling at last night's BNB volunteer night, so I waited until this morning and made my way to the closest neighborhood bike shop. In this case, it was the Brighton Ave branch of the International Bicycle Center, where Marcus got Ollie unsqueaked and even reattached her tire pump holder (which I had temporarily macguyvered with a piece of sponge and some zip ties after the infamous ditch dive). Now, bike mechanics have a bit of a reputation for being surly, but such was certainly not the case here. We chatted about bike touring, I learned about wheel rim cleaning, and Erich wandered over at one point and chimed in, telling me about the city's locavore scene. Pity that I finally meet the friendly folks on my way out of the city.

Yes, once this morning's thunderstorms dwindled to mere pouring rain and sideways gales, Ollie and I hit road, heading north toward our next farm....

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


  1. You intrepid soldier! I've never seen so much rain. The harvest gods must be bettering the bike gods for you.

  2. I should qualify: I met a woman a few days later at Green Meadows farm who also has been to the unnamed grumpy suburban farm and she said it was a great place and very friendly. Maybe Caron and I had just come on a bad day....after nearly two months without sun I could understand if farmers get a little crabby. (They still could have at least tried to be friendly, though.)


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