Artist Ted Efremoff and company's Bread Cycle Works Project began this past march in a vacant lot on Broad Street. Join them this Saturday at the green at Billings Forge (563 Broad St. Hartford, CT) starting at 3 PM to share in the fruit of their collective labor. Here are a few pictures and memories I accumulated over the course of their community-focused, bicycle-powered journey from seed to feast. I wasn't around for the plowing and planting stages, but I did take part in the harvest, where my story begins.
Part one: Harvest M(ons)oon- July 10
The email had gone out a few days prior, scheduling the wheat harvest for 11:00 AM on Saturday. The sky looked threatening that morning, and it wasn't long after I arrived at 11:00 that the first few drops of rain began to fall. The next few minutes were a frenzied attempt to beat the rain. Sickles, scythes and my saw-chete (a machete with a serrated saw teeth on its back edge) were swished about with haste cutting, stacking and bagging as the rain increased its intensity to biblical. A couple of local guys came and pitched in, which was pretty awesome.
There were four cargo bikes on hand: The Bread Cycle Works plow trike with a trailer, a cycletruck-style conversion with a massive woven basket, a bakfiets-style conversion with a massive steel basket, and my Yuba Mundo with the trailer. We loaded as much as we could before the wheat got too wet, using trash bags and a shower curtain to protect as much as we could. We slogged up Broad Street, soaked to the skin, and arranged the wheat on drying racks in Ted's studio. We rode around the corner for coffee and lingered as our clothes slowly dried.
Part Two: Back For More- July 12
With rain forecast for Tuesday and beyond, Monday looked like the best day to harvest the remainder of the wheat. It was short notice and a weekday so extra hands were in short supply. I met up with Ted and Alex in the afternoon. I sharpened my dull Saw-chete to help facilitate cutting wheat and not accidentally damaging my own extremities.
As it happened, I did not cut myself with my clumsy blade-slinging, but by drawing my finger along a wheat stalk for a wheaten equivalent of a paper cut. The cut itself was minor, but I quickly demonstrated my God-given talent for bleeding. I disposed of the affected wheat (as bloodstained wheat is both nasty and non-vegan) and set aside my (t)rusty blade to tend to my wound. Unfortunately, my first aid kit was in the pannier I had left at home and nobody else had any band-aids, so I wiped my bloody hand with a baby wipe, tied it around my finger and headed for the nearest bodega for a box of bandages. Bodega #1 didn't have any, but bodega #2 not only had Band-Aids, they sold them individually! I was familiar with "Loosie" cigarette sales, but this was my first observation of the practice extended to first aid supplies-- freaking brilliant! I bought a loosie-depleted partial box for a dollar, figuring that it would be good to have a few extras on hand. No more were needed, but I was sufficiently amused for the afternoon.
Monday's harvest took a couple of hours with only three adults on hand, but we managed to get it all cut and hauled back to Billings Forge studio to scatter on the drying racks in preparation for the pedal-powered threshing and milling process. Passers-by stopped and asked about the project regularly.
Part Three: I'm Gonna Thresh You Sukkah- September 18
I wasn't able to attend the bike-powered thresh and milling session, but I did see the Sukkah (a Jewish feast booth) they built from the leftover hay when I was at the Farmers' Market. Here's a pic of the threshcycle setup courtesy of Ted:
Part Four: Eat!- October 2
Hope you can make it.