Celebrating Good Food Day with Bikes and a Garden Tour

Riders gather at the end of an Eastside Bike Club/Salesian Boys and Girls Club garden tour. For more pictures from the tour, read on to the end of the article. Photo provided by Carlos Morales

The Salesian Boys & Girls Club teamed up with the Eastside Bike Club (EBC) to host a Community Garden Bike Ride on March 31 as part of Mayor Villaraigosa’s “Good Food Day 2012” -  A day of Service in recognition of the late Cesar Chavez.

The goal of this community bike ride was to expose participants to beautiful gardens that are flourishing in Northeast Los Angeles.  The tour included open discussions of gardens being a sustainable food option and the benefits of healthier, affordable food choices we can make each time we consume a meal.

Fifty participants showed up ready to travel through Boyle Heights, El Sereno and the Lincoln Heights communities. Prior to departure, Eastside Bike Club members Gustavo Muniz, Manuel Hernandez, Cesar Solano, Rudy Montes and Rene Morales performed safety checks on participants bikes, including checking tire air pressure, lubrication of chain, and making proper seat and brake adjustments.  EBC members gave  a brief talk on bike riding on the streets with a group, because for many it was their first group ride.

Ana Valdez, High School Programs Director for the Salesian Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles stated, “When we began this project we did not know how many gardens existed in Northeast Los Angeles and after doing the research we discovered that there were more gardens than we first anticipated.  Several gardens found out of our excursion and contacted us to offer their gardens for consideration for our tour.  Our challenge was to define which ones we were going to visit for in the allotted time and distance.”

The bike ride began at the Salesian Family Youth Center on 4th Street in Boyle Heights.  The ride made brief stops at six Community Gardens (CG) located on the Eastside.  Each garden varied in size, the array of vegetation, the layout, topography, and the way each one is managed.

The Garden tour included; Roosevelt High School Main Campus CG, Girls Today, Women Tomorrow CG, Roosevelt ESP Campus CG at the ELA Skill Center in Lincoln Heights, Wilson High School CG, The El Sereno CG, and Proyecto Jardin CG in Boyle Heights

There were CG volunteers and Master Gardeners at each garden the group visited that explained the uniqueness of each garden.  The tour took four and a half hours and traveled 16 miles round trip.  Everyone gained a much better understanding on how fruits and vegetables are grown and why they are important to have in our lives.  Master Gardeners answered questions on how to start a garden in your home or apartment.

Special thanks to all the gardens which opened up their gates to allow for this educational bike tour and for sharing gardening tips with the group.

Girls Today, Women Tomorrow Community Garden

Wilson High School Community Garden

Garden bed

Eastside Bike Club volunteers checking air