Chasing the Carrot: Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz’s 2nd annual Jewish edible garden bike tour

Last Sunday, July 25, 15 people gathered at Oregon’s Museum of Science and Industry for Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz’s 2nd annual Jewish edible garden bike tour. Portland is laid out in grids, like Washington, D.C. Last year’s tour covered NE Portland; this year we set off to explore neighborhoods in SE.

Our ride leader, Tuv member Beth Hamon, is an old-school bike geek. Last year she created spoke cards for our ride (when you do something for the first time, it’s an innovation; twice is minhag) So of course she made a new one for this year’s ride. Here’s a picture:

Our route took us through the Sellwood, Mt. Tabor and Hawthorne neighborhoods. We started with a trip down the Springwater Corridor, a 40-mile multi-use trail that runs partway along the Willamette River and goes past some fantastic bird habitats.

We visited four gardens, ranging in size from a single raised bed to an urban micro-farm, complete with bees and a small orchard. All the gardeners talked about what they grew, how long they’d been growing food, and some offered perspectives on how their Judaism informs their gardening. For some, the conection is simply that they are Jewish and enjoy putting their hands in the dirt. Others talked about earth stewardship and one gardener deconstructed the Hebrew word pardes (orchard), as a way of explaining his approach: “Pardes begins with a Peh, which stands for p’shat, a simple explanation for things (what you see is what you get). The next letter, Reish, stands for remez, which means “hidden,” and suggests all that goes into making the plants grow: water, healthy soil, air, sunlight. Daled is drash, a commentary, and the final letter, Samech, stands for sod, which means “secret”, as in ‘The Secret Life of Plants,’ something you have to study and understand over a period of years.”

We ended our 14-mile loop with a picnic lunch at Sewallcrest Park, next to an enormous community garden. It’s worth mentioning that community gardens are very popular here; we have a three-year waiting list, with more than 1,000 people waiting for a plot.

Here’s a link to our Flickr page for more pictures of our ride. One rider used a nifty little GPS device he wore on his wrist like a watch to map our route. Here’s another link that shows where we went.

If you’d like to plan a similar event, please feel free to contact me for information.

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6 Responses to “Chasing the Carrot: Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz’s 2nd annual Jewish edible garden bike tour”

  1. beth h Says:

    Really enjoyable bunch of riders and gardens. The loop laid out at the Garmin site (link above) makes for a lovely ride even without the garden stops.

  2. Louie Says:

    Wow I am in the midst of planning something very similar at my college right now.

  3. Liz Says:

    That’s great, Louie. Bike tours are a lot of fun; just make sure everyone wears a helmet.

  4. beth Says:

    …and signs a waiver, and agrees to obey all traffic rules. If you want a copy of the wording we used, contact me via my blog (link in my name). Happy riding –Beth

  5. Anna Says:

    What a great ride! The photos are awesome. I love the spoke cards! Nice work ;0)

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