Sonoma County cyclists combat food insecurity with fundraiser ride

Cyclists pedaled from Santa Rosa to Sebastopol on Saturday morning to raise awareness for a gardening nonprofit in a ride organized by Community Market, the Neighborhood Garden Initiative and the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition.

The ride started at Community Market’s Santa Rosa location on Mendocino Avenue, where participants decorated their bikes with ribbons and flowers before taking off along the Joe Rodota Trail. At the halfway mark of the close to nine-mile ride, cyclists stopped for snacks and drinks.

The ride ended at the market’s Sebastopol location on Sebastopol Avenue where participants enjoyed live music by local Americana folk musician JP Soden, smoothies and popcorn for the price of a donation, and perused plants and local art for sale.

All money raised went toward the Neighborhood Garden Initiative, an organization founded by Santa Rosa Junior College student Ammon Jordon working to combat food insecurity by installing home gardens for free.

The art sale featured prints and crochet items by three Sonoma State University students, as well as handmade candles by the Neighborhood Garden Initiative’s Jordon.

While Community Market has organized bike ride events in the past, this is the first year the event was used as a fundraiser, according to the market’s Marketing Coordinator Lisa Waltenspiel. The goal for the event was $4,500, with funds raised primarily through donations, she said.

“It’s part of our mission to support local community groups,” Waltenspiel said.

Jordon said that the money will be used to install gardens around the Bay Area and cover lumber and soil costs as well as general operational costs for the nonprofit.

The organization has so far installed five home gardens in Sonoma and Marin counties, as well as two community gardens in Rohnert Park and Oakland, he said.

“We realized that growing your own food is very powerful and revolutionary. Not a lot of people know how to do it, we’re very disconnected from the land,” Jordon said.

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