On Bikes, Food and Community

It’s been a year and half since I started al FreshCo – impassioned by the chance to make the world a little bit better by improving our food system, and through it, our connection with community and our environment. Starting with this goal; my bike; and some wonderful farmers, I have delivered 3,842 locally grown, healthy meals to our Boston community using my trusty bicycle.

Through rain, shine, tens of inches of snow through the long Boston winter, the old MetroFive got me from JP to Cambridge, Somerville, Southie, Dorchester, Roslindale, and on and on. As I started delivering more meal kits, I added on a homemade trailer, added things like a sturdier back rack for panniers, fenders to protect the kits in the rain. My bike is like a limb- I couldn’t get around without it, nor could al FreshCo run as efficiently as it does.

Last week, my bike, was plucked from my porch, taking with it my whole setup- trailer hitch, lights, rack, fenders, a wonderfully broken-in saddle, even my lock, and of course, the old MetroFive itself, one and all. My bike is my livelihood, it’s my only form of transportation, and it’s the human-powered engine that keeps al FreshCo running. What nerve, I say!

Helping me fight this momentary feeling of defeat, I started a campaign to raise money from family, friends, supporters, and the community, hoping to get back on the road.

In an extraordinary show of support from the community, we raised $1,660 in just 24 hours- $660 more than requested.

Building a business is a challenge that I have loved taking on; there are ups and downs, sure, but thinking of the community we have built around bikes and food is astonishing. Biking makes sense, eating food grown by great farmers makes sense, and getting a community of people to whom all these things makes sense, well, it makes sense!

Back to the bike; the story doesn’t end here!

In a very unexpected turn of events- I stumbled upon my bike, and it didn’t go far! Walking the dog, I was flabbergasted to find a dude casually ride by sitting on my bike. A double and triple-take later, I weighed my options- daylight, people around, the dog, a pretty relaxed looking guy on the bike, and yes, it was most definitely my bike. Call the cops? He’s on a bike! Follow him? He’s riding away! Determined-woman-walk towards him, I placed my hand on the handlebars, and said, “Hi, that’s my bike”. He told me his friend gave it to him, I told him that his friend, then, stole my bike. He started to call his friend and I politely told him it could be easier if I call the police. With the help of a friendly, bilingual, long-term resident of the neighborhood, we told him to scram, and I walked away with the old MetroFive!

Save for some missing parts (not surprised the trailer hitch was tossed or sold); it is still intact. With such generous support from you all, I was on my way to moving on to bigger and better delivery options to carry me through all seasons, but karma struck back.

Being part of a mission-oriented community gives us purpose. Continuing to build our community of those striving to outweigh all the bad in the food system with the good, is where we are heading. Thanks for tuning in!

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