Smooth Ride: A Lesson in Partnership by Val Cavalheri

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If you’ve been to Easton’s Farmers Market (located in the parking lot on North Harrison St), next to all the produce, bakery goodies, flowers, crafters, and specialty food and drinks is another type of “pedaler.” But this one looks like something you would find at the Y or a home gym and it’s being ridden by a smiling child. If you’ve gone closer, you’ll notice that this aerobic workout is powering a blender filled with fruits and juices, which when finished is poured into a cup and handed over to appreciative healthy guests. Welcome to Talbot Mentor’s Smoothie Bike and Produce Stand!

The Smoothie Bike was not part of the original plan envisioned a couple of years ago when Talbot Mentors (TM) joined the Farmer’s Market. At the time, they were looking for a place to sell the produce cultivated at their Community Garden located at the TM office on Maryland Ave. It was a perfect way for mentees to learn how to grow and harvest crops, sell them, and earn some money.

Before long the community stepped up to support the program. Bill Griffin, owner of Bartlett, Griffin & Vermilye, Inc. Ins. Co. and Jim Fodrie, Facilities Director at Y, helped by building a portable farmer’s market stand on a boat trailer. Chesapeake Harvest found local growers and the BAAM’s (Building African-American Minds) farmstand efforts to supplement the produce for sale. Last year, Ryan Groll, owner of Eat Sprout, came across a smoothie bike and the Dock St. Foundation bought it and donated it to TM, adding a fun element to the stand.

The intention was for the bike to be powered by a volunteer mentee. Instead, it soon became apparent that people of all ages wanted to make their own smoothies! At a customer’s request, the blender is filled with a choice of organic mango, blueberry, strawberry and/or bananas and combined with either milk or apple juice. Either the guest or mentee pedals the bike for a minute or two, pulverizing the fruits. Photos and selfies are sometimes involved. A great idea and all for $4.00!

We asked Richard Marks, a TM Board of Directors member, if this was lucrative? “No, we’re happy to break even,” he said. “But it’s very successful. The kids are getting some work experience, they get to interact with the public, and they get to spend time with their mentors.”

So, if not as a money-maker, the reason why TM hopes that the bike will draw you to their stand is that you’ll want to know more about how you can help. Talbot Mentors’ mission is to match young people in Talbot County with volunteer mentors who, through a couple of hours a week, support them in the challenges they may be facing. Mentors do this through friendship and guidance with a goal of ensuring that the children mature into engaged and productive members of their community. Richard puts it this way, “We currently have over 100 matches now and know there are many, many more kids, that could benefit from a mentor.”

Mentoring is one way to help; there are various other opportunities to have a positive influence on a child’s development: Financial donations, teaching children a skill you might have in art, cooking, building, etc., and sponsorships are just some of the ways to make a difference to this community effort.

To learn more about the program, visit talbotmentors.org or call the office at 410-770-5999, visit an info session, and look for Talbot Mentors on Instagram and Facebook.

The Farmer’s Market is open every Saturday from April to December. The Talbot Mentors Produce Stand AND the Smoothie Bike are located at ‘the People’s Place’ in the People’s Bank parking lot.

Val Cavalheri is a recent transplant to the Eastern Shore, having lived in Northern Virginia for the past 20 years. She’s been a writer, editor and professional photographer for various publications, including the Washington Post.

 

 

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