Saturday, August 10, 2013

SACG Celebrates Local Foods Week with Local Matters and Yay Bikes!

Bikers turning onto Stoddart Avenue
As faithful readers know, today the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden hosted visitors who participated in a bicycle tour of community gardens on the near south and east side of Columbus organized by Local Matters and Yay Bikes! Local Matters sponsors local foods week every year to promote the idea that we should all be eating as much food as we can from local farmers and our backyards.  Today’s bicycle tour was a kick-off event for Local Foods Week (for those of you who missed Tom’s gardening segment on NBC4 this morning).  

Yay Bikes! is a non-profit that promotes bicycling for alternative transportation in Central Ohio.  (I probably should have mentioned while they were here that I bike quite a bit in Bexley, which is an extremely bike-friendly community.  I’m the old lady with a basket on her bike that rides to the Library and Kroger’s and am a regular fixture on the Alum Creek Trail.  SACG Gardener Charlie is also an avid biker and volunteers at the Bike Co-Op on 5th Avenue). 

Cathy and I were busy baking yesterday.  She was much busier than me because she was baking hundreds of cupcakes for a wedding near Canton today.  She used the strawberries we picked in June at Hann’s Farm and makes her own frosting from scratch.  She also has all the proper tools and the neatest looking cupcake storage containers you’ve ever seen.  You’d think she was a professional baker, or something.  My cupcakes and muffins definitely look homemade.  I made the beet red velvet chocolate cupcakes I’ve blogged about before and Martha Stewart’s chocolate zucchini muffins (which taste better than they sound).  I used less butter than Martha, but I don’t think I baked them long enough because they all fell flat after being removed from the oven.    One of these days . . .

Before coming to the Garden I had to stop by the bank to get change for the bake sale.  When I arrived, Sabrina was already at the SACG weeding her own plot and she helped me to unload my car and get set up.  She harvested quite a few cucumbers, which she plans to pickle.  I then turned to weeding and weeding and weeding and pruning the back rose bushes. By 10:30, the bikers still had not arrived, so Sabrina bid me adieu and I started harvesting green beans.   
While I was picking my pole beans, I came across a praying mantis.  I had seen him in a different part of my plot a few days ago.  Then, I initially focused on his eyes and almost killed him in mistaking him for a grasshopper.  When I realized what he was, I sent him on his way.  Today, he was in my pole beans and he stayed put while I found my camera and took some pictures.   We love mantises because they eat pesky bugs that eat our vegetables before we do.  This is the first mantis I have seen at the SACG and I hope that s/he lays lots and lots of eggs.

The bikers were due around 11:15 and I kept looking down Main Street wondering where they were.  They finally showed up around 11:45.  I thought that the organizers might be offended by our bake sale, but they were thrilled.  The beets and zucchini used in our baked goods had been raised at the SACG.  The strawberries were from a local farm that we visited as a SACG field trip.   
Everyone (who had been biking since 9 am) was hungry and glad to have free water to refill their bottles.   I had been told to expect about 30 riders, but I think there were more than that.  They had been allocated 15 minutes at each garden, so I let them wonder around, answered questions and sold cupcakes.  I could have told stories all morning, but I knew that Richard (at the next garden, Growing Hearts and Hands on Oak Street) had to be wondering where they were.  So, I waved farewell as their peloton biked down Stoddart Avenue’s brick pavement.

Bikers leaving down Stoddart Ave
Neal had arrived during the hubbabaloo.  We discussed a few of his questions about next steps with his plot and then turned to harvesting and pulling dead squash plants out of the Garden. Seeing that no one dropped dead from eating our cupcakes, some neighbors also stopped by to buy some.  I sold them to the kids at half-price (because I have no backbone).   I picked almost 30 pounds of food for the food pantry.  By now, it was getting late and I had to kick the kids out so that I could work.  As it was, I didn’t leave the Garden until after 2 and made it to the food pantry about 20 minutes before it closed for the weekend.  They kept commenting on all the tomatoes – particularly the beefstakes.

Next week, we’ll be focusing on harvesting potatoes and planting our Fall season crops.  Be there or be square.

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