Unbelievable to think that today marks the one year anniversary of our journey’s beginning. 365 days ago we left a small gathering of friends and set off on our first of what would be 107 days of learning and living while cycling across the USA. It’s with this special date in mind that we are happy to provide tangible numbers that connect the generous donations we received to the locally grown foods being served in public schools in Brunswick, Maine.
2012-13 School lunch purchases (All items locally sourced *denotes MOFGA certified Organic)
1,780 lbs *Carrots
300 lbs Potatoes
190 lbs *Beets
160 lbs *Squash
60 lbs *Cabbage
With 40% of our initial funds in tact we hope to provide an assortment of fresh summer vegetables and greens for the beginning of next school year while continuing to create future opportunities for growth, education, collaboration and sustainable forms of funding.
As we settle into a familiar winter slumber in New England and await our inevitable march away from the sun, we are happy to report a lot of activity in creating access to local organic foods for Maine’s School Children. Working with local School Nutrition Directors, Teachers and Administrators as well as Six River Farm (Bowdoinham, Maine) and Fairwinds Farm (Topsham, Maine) we have established monthly farm visits to pick up produce that will fortify school lunch menus district wide. Utilizing the funds generated from individuals and organizations across the United States we have established a monthly purchasing and pick up schedule that will ultimately infuse $8,000 into the local economy. By supporting the fruits of diversified small-scale agriculture we aim to influence regional school nutrition reform and create positive and healthy learning alternatives for children grades K-5 in Brunswick, Maine. To date we have successfully purchased and delivered:
650 lbs Organic Carrots
160 lbs Organic Winter Squash (Acorn & Butternut)
150 lbs Organic Potatoes (Russett & Chieftan)
100 lbs Organic Beets
40 lbs of Organic Cabbage
In total we hope to deliver over 1 ton of locally grown produce by the coming spring. As the weather warms and the soil is again ready to be tilled we will working with Six River to grow early spring greens and tomatoes for the end of the 2012-13 school year.
Today we visited out friends at Six River Farm in Bowdoinham, picking up our first of three fall produce orders.
Today we grabbed:
500# Carrots, 60# Cabbage, 40# Beets, 40# Butternut Squash, 40# Acorn Squash
That’s nearly 700 pounds of organic, locally sourced vegetables for students at Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary (and other schools throughout the district)!
After some gentle prodding from our friend and FoodCycle supporter John, we have decided to explain where FoodCycle stands at the moment and what plans we have moving forward.
After a meeting last week with Scott Smith (School Nutrition Director for Brunswick and MSAD 75 Schools) we established delivery dates and quantities for seasonal and organic produce from Six River Farm (Bowdoinham, Maine). The farmers at Six River, Nate and Gabrielle, have been friends since we began to promote our intention of creating access to sustainable foods in schools, and from the outset they have wanted to help. This week we will be pick up over 500 pounds of organic produce and we’ve set dates for pick up in December and January.
As the food begins to make its way on to local school lunch trays we will be working with classroom teachers to introduce the new and colorful (and not to mention delicious!) foods that they will now have access to. The better we can encourage kitchen staff to prepare these foods in creative and informative ways the more success we anticipate having in changing how students envision lunch.
Though we have not raised our goal of $10,000 we have been successful in mobilizing a strong base of community support-and national coverage from our cross country bike ride-as well as over $8,000! We’ll be working to provide an additional income to the farmers of Six River of over $3,200 this fall from the produce that we purchase. Working with local farmers to establish additional sources of income that directly support local foods in schools is likely an area where FoodCycle will concentrate its efforts moving forward.
Pictures of our first fall pick up coming soon!
After 107 days on the road and 83 days biking we dipped our tires in Tomales Bay, California! More photos, facts and fun stories to come.
All that separates us now from the California’s Central Valley and its rugged northern coast is the summit of Carson Pass. At 8,573′ it represents the last significant climb of our bike trip, a final challenge of the many we have faced. We will have to earn our few days our leisure with friends and we are happy to embrace this truth.
With Colorado, Utah and Nevada (nearly) behind us we’re feeling strong and motivated. These past two weeks we have moved our bodies and our bikes over 1,000 miles and tens of thousands of vertical feet through the beautiful and treacherous desert southwest. Our path intersected in this time with supported riders from Bike the US for MS. For several days we traveled alongside these wonderful folks and accepted their generosity with a sense of humility that can only be learned through spending nearly 100 days on the road. Relying on the compassion and giving nature of people has been a hallmark of this journey and it has vaulted my perspective of the goodness of my fellow Americans in a way that is best described as pleasantly surprised. It’s easy to see now why so many take such pride in this country, it’s vast natural beauty is unparalleled anywhere on this earth-we have been privy to this fact each day over the course of the last 3 months. Yet I wonder how many Americans have formulated this opinion, of America’s “superiority,” from an experience as personal, introspective and painstakingly meticulous as what we have encountered. I maintain my belief that those who claim the most pride for this country and understanding of what makes it unique and great actually know the least about it.
They should get out of their cars, turn off their tv’s and go for a bike ride.
After a few days spent amongst friends in CO Springs and in Salida we set off to tackle the highest point on the entire ride. Beginning in the early morning fog we rode from our new friend Matthew Cohen’s home toward Monarch Pass. From 22 miles we gradually climbed, switching back and forth up the rolling terrain of Highway 50. The weather was clear and brisk to start, while the sun moved in warming our backs and offering a gentle push through the thin mountain air. After 3 hours of hard work we had crossed the Continental Divide at Monarch Pass, now officially in the Western United States, we took a few moments to reflect from 11,313 feet. This elevation represents our highest point on the route, though countless miles of rolling hills and steep climbs still await in western parts of Colorado, Utah, Nevada and the Sierra Nevada Range of California. For now though, we’re happy with our accomplishment and eager to press on, moving forward toward experiences still unknown.
We have a few new webisodes completed and will be working to have them viewable on our website at www.foodcycleus.com - Stay tuned.