FoodCycle: Updates From the Road

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UPDATE FROM THE ROAD #6: Mentor, Ohio

As we sit in the home of our new friends Jeremy and Kim (and their two beautiful daughters) we are incredibly grateful for the generosity of those that have embraced our ride and our mission. A HUGE and vital form of support has been the online hosting network specifically aimed at touring cyclists, Warm Showers. This resource has, and will continue to, provide not only a warm shower and places to stay but also an ability to share thoughts and ideas, philosophies and a common passion for traveling by bike in car culture.

Tomorrow we head for Cleveland and will be hosted by an individual with ties to the local foods movement there. We’ll likely spend two nights in the greater Cleveland area, then continue west along lake Erie on the way toward Chicago.

UPDATE FROM THE ROAD #7: Vermilion, Ohio

Anyone who says anything bad about Cleveland, Ohio has never been to it. I should know, I used to be one of those people. But seriously, who knew? Like many US cities built on the back of an Industry now in decline and shipped overseas, Cleveland struggles with poverty and blighted buildings, a lack of jobs and eroding infrastructures. It is under populated and thousands of buildings and commercial lots sit unoccupied, weathering into decay as the seasons pass. This to any outsider, would seem reason enough to label it-as many have-as an undersireable place to live or do business.

Yet something profoundly interesting is happening in Cleveland, a revolution of sorts is unfurling as we speak. Those run down lots and blighted properties are slowly being transformed by a generation of young and motivated urban farmers. While in Cleveland we were able to tour one of the many farms doing work to not merely transform the aesthetic of Cleveland, but to also provide a reliable source of local and organic foods to many communities living in a veritable food desert.

The neighborhood of Ohio City, though still struggling with issues of underemployment, poverty and drug abuse, is now home to the largest contiguous urban farm in the United States. Members of the community have joined en mass to volunteer their services during harvest and to protect this community resource from those with less admirable intentions.

Cleveland is also a burgeoning foodie destination and these farms serve a critical link in providing locally sourced produce to area restuarants. Unlike larger metropolitan areas with a reputation for fine restaurants such as Boston, New York and Chicago in Cleveland you can’t get away with charging $35 for an entrée, the economy here won’t sustain it and that’s just fine by Clevelanders. One gets the distinct impression that those that live in Cleveland are happy to reside in a city that is so undervalued-because ultimately it would seem the joke is on everyone who never sees the city with their own eyes.

These updates originally appeared on FoodCycleUS.com. They are re-posted here with permission of the authors.

THE WRITERS: At its core FoodCycle is about adventure and education. This April a team of cyclist will embark on a self-supported cross county from Casco Bay (Maine) to San Francisco Bay (California) to "pedal" our vision.

Be sure to check back for more great updates and "On the Road" episodes!