Hammers are knocking, wheels are whizzing, and sweat is dripping as students and teachers build a bike repair workshop at Iron Street Urban Farm this week. Workshop construction is just the beginning of a 6-week youth bike repair and ridership course, part of a collaboration between Working Bikes and another local humanitarian organization: Growing Power.
Founded in Milwaukee in 1993, Growing Power promotes sustainable food production and healthy communities by creating local farms and gardens. At these “Community Food Centers,” Growing Power works with community members to grow food, provide youth skill and leadership programs, and run workshops for farmers and communities looking to start their own gardens or farms.
Goats at Iron Street Urban Farm.
The Working Bikes and Growing Power summer program links urban agriculture and bicycling as sources of empowerment. Working Bikes staff and volunteers will lead classes and ride clubs at Growing Power’s Iron Street, Altgeld Gardens, and Chicago Lights Urban Farms. The classes are designed to develop participants’ city cycling and bike maintenance skills over a 6-week term, making youth more comfortable with bicycling as a form of transportation. At Altgeld Gardens Urban Farm we’ll take the first steps towards pedal powered produce distribution this summer, using a prototype bike trailer to deliver produce. Our goal is to expand the bicycle delivery program to the other two farms in 2014.
Working Bikes and Growing Power will be providing a bicycle for each program participant. These yellow (or green) bicycles will be housed at the Growing Power farms, and available to community members throughout the 6-week courses.
Through our partnership, Working Bikes and Growing Power aim to provide residents of some of Chicago’s most underserved communities with the tools to improve their health and develop a greater sense of independence. By increasing mobility, developing job skills, and encouraging healthy eating and exercise, we hope to spark positive change amongst individuals and their communities.
Keep an eye out for these fleets of green thumbs, taking to the streets with a yellow bike and a basket of veggies soon!
It may not look like much now, but soon this corner at Iron Street Urban Farm will be a bustling bike workshop.
Photo #1 credit Trevor Clarke. Photo #2 credit Marie Akerman.