Posts Tagged ‘wapo’

Fed Up by Food Prices, Many Grow It Alone (WaPo)

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

Continuing the omnibus “Geography Matters” series:

Fed Up by Food Prices, Many Grow It Alone
Gardens Gaining Ground Nationwide

By Robin Shulman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 3, 2008; Page A01

NEW YORK — Just beneath an L train subway platform in Brooklyn, Tanika Gentry fingers the deep green leaves of a collard plant in the black soil of a community garden.

This is dinner.

Gentry, fed up with the spiking cost of food, recently decided to grow her own. Now she is reaping a harvest of collards, cabbages, tomatoes and pumpkins to feed her family.

“Once you have to choose between eating and fuel, there’s nothing greater than going back to the beginning and making your own,” said Gentry, 32, who home-schools her two daughters. “With the way things are going, it may be something a lot more people are realistically doing.”

From Atlanta to Minneapolis to Seattle, people are reacting to the stagnant economy and the high cost of produce by planting their own fruits and vegetables, say garden store owners, bulk seed sellers and industry analysts.

In the skyscrapered canyons of New York City, increasing numbers of people are growing their food on fire escapes, on rooftops, in back yards and in community gardens.

It is a phenomenon that has always ebbed and flowed with the economy, said Bruce Butterfield, the market research director of the National Gardening Association, who has been tracking it for decades. The biggest recent peak in homegrown food came in 1975, during a national oil crisis, he said, when 49 percent of U.S. households were growing vegetables.

Continue reading at Washington Post . . .

wapo gardenPedaling the Local Food Movement
Three D.C. Women Take a Three-Month Bike Trip to Montreal to Document Community Agriculture Efforts

By Adrian Higgins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 24, 2008; Page H01

Where do gardening, small-scale agriculture and the future of planet Earth converge? For three Washington women, it’s on a road less traveled, on byways unseen from the gotta-get-there, high-speed chaos of the interstate.

It has been a year since Lara Sheets, 26, Liz Tylander, 25, and Kat Shiffler, 24, climbed on their bicycles in Mount Pleasant and pedaled north, eventually to Montreal. Along the way they visited thriving inner-city gardens, innovative suburban farms and rooftop vegetable plots as they chronicled a grass-roots movement seeking to change the way we put food on our table.

The result is a low-budget documentary, “Garden Cycles Bike Tour,” which captures the spirit of their unusual 2,000-mile sojourn and the much larger movement that inspired it. The trip has also generated a Web site and blog, http://womensgardencycles.wordpress.com.

In the course of their three-month odyssey, the women found a community garden in the gutted ghettos of Baltimore, were run off the road by a truck in New Jersey, abandoned efforts to cycle across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York and got hopelessly lost in New England towns. They slept in the gardens of strangers, discovered new ethnic food and recipes and cemented their desire to change the world by growing vegetables.

Continue reading at Washington Post . . .

Cycling Back Around: Bike Safety Hits Close to Home (WaPo, WSJ)

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

[Editor's note: My mother was hit by a driver while riding her bike today and broke 2 fingers. Share the road and look for bikes! Cars and bikes both need to obey normal traffic laws! And let's get some more bike lanes striped.]

Continuing “Geography Matters” series . . .

Risking Life and Limb, Riding a Bike to Work in L.A.
(Most emailed article of the day on Friday)
Cyclists, Banned on Freeways and Reviled By Drivers, Save a Buck and Make a Point

By RHONDA L. RUNDLE
Wall Street Journal
August 1, 2008; Page A1
LOS ANGELES — Paula Rodriguez, who lives in the San Fernando Valley, got so disgusted with soaring fuel prices last spring that she stopped driving, sold her SUV and bought a bike.

But pedaling the 15 miles home from her job, the 30-year-old Ms. Rodriquez has encountered something more frightening than $4.50-a-gallon gasoline: the mean streets of L.A., home of the nation’s most entrenched car culture.

“Drivers scream at me to get off the road,” says the medical-billing clerk. The main commuting route near her home is so terrifying, she says, that she usually takes an alternative route that adds four miles to her trip.

Even then, it’s not an easy ride. On one stretch, splintered glass in the street could puncture her tires, she says. On Wednesdays, she has to dodge garbage cans blocking the bike lane. On Friday evenings, as the sun sets, she feels menaced by drunk drivers. Such threats compel her to sometimes swing onto the sidewalk, even though that could get her a ticket. “I go slow, ring my little bell and stop sometimes to say ‘hi’ to pedestrians,” she says.

Commuters across the U.S. are responding to high gasoline prices by finding alternatives to driving. But in Los Angeles, it takes a special kind of road warrior to hop on a bike in the name of saving the planet and a little money.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal . . .

bike dc girlCycling Back Around
Four Wheels Good, Two Wheels Better. In the City, an Old-Fashioned Conveyance Returns

By David Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 2, 2008; Page C01

This is the summer you realize you need it again.

This is the summer of women on bicycles riding around town free as anything, wearing long dresses or skirts, sandals or even high heels, hair flowing helmet-free, pedaling not-too-hard and sitting upright on their old-school bikes, the kind with front baskets where they put their laptops, and handlebars that curve gently back in a bow shaped like the upper line of someone’s perfectly drawn red lipstick.

… The machine of the moment is the 1969 Schwinn Deluxe Racer, picked up on Craigslist for $75, with lightly rusted metal fenders and a three-speed Sturmey-Archer shifter on the upright handlebars. Or it’s a new Jamis Commuter, or a Breezer Villager, this year’s models that aren’t ashamed of the primitive, durable genius of an old Schwinn.

“Somewhere along the line, we made biking a hobby and a sport instead of a way to get around,” says Alexandra Dickson, an architect who commutes from Southwest Washington to her downtown office on a blue Breezer Villager that she calls Babe, after Babe the Blue Ox. “I’d like to see it get back to being a way of getting around.”

… What’s happening is, the American conception of the bicycle-as-toy and the bicycle-as-sports-equipment is being infiltrated by the European notion of the bicycle-as-transportation and the Asian notion of the bicycle-as-cargo-hauler.

The idea has dawned that, guess what, contrary to biker dogma of the 1970s and 1980s, you don’t have to break your back with drop-down handlebars and obsess over ever-lighter space-age frames. The totemic two-wheeler is no longer the Specialized Roubaix Elite Triple with the carbon frame and the 30-speed Shimano drivetrain for $1,949.99, last seen tearing down Beach Drive on weekends, bearing lawyers and lobbyists in full spandex peloton plumage. And good riddance to the 1980s’ and 1990s’ craze for tank-treaded, double-suspension mountain bikes. The only time you ever found yourself “off-road,” dude, was on the C&O Canal towpath.

Hybrids came along, of course, a compromise between road bikes and mountain bikes. Now hybrids have been refined and gussied into “commuter bikes,” made by such companies as Jamis, Breezer and others, costing a few hundred bucks up to $1,000.

The handlebars are set higher than the seats, so you sit upright and comfortable. What a concept. The reign of the purists is over, and all the accessories they forbade are permitted again. There are baskets in front and racks in back. There are chain guards so you don’t get grease on your slacks, and skirt guards so you don’t catch your dress. Kickstands are no longer a heresy punishable by sneering. Fenders are back, along with mudflaps, so you don’t get a splatter trail up your back on rainy days. On some of the models, front and rear lights come installed.

Continue reading at Washington Post . . .

bike safetyAs More Cyclists Take to The Streets, Dangers Persist

By Moira E. McLaughlin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 29, 2008; Page HE01

I am waiting for my husband to ask me quietly whether I might reconsider biking to work, something I have been doing for about three years. After the July 8 death of a 22-year-old cyclist in our Dupont Circle neighborhood, I wonder when his “Be careful getting to work this morning” will turn into “Think you should find another way to get to work this morning?”

I don’t mind public transportation, but I like the flexibility afforded by a bike. Walking is all right, too, but I’d take my eight-minute morning bike ride over a 20-minute trek.

And I am clearly not alone. On one recent morning, I counted 10 bikers waiting for the light at 14th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW. The Whole Foods Market on P Street in that area has two big bike racks, yet finding a space on them can be almost as hard as finding a space to park your car.

Continue reading at Washington Post . . .