by Ashley Vogel

On Sunday, August 5th, the Bicycle Coalition partnered with the Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP) to present Petal Pedal, a bike tour of four of POP’s 62 orchards. The tour included stops at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center, Woodford Mansion, Historic Strawberry Mansion, and the Share Food Program.

Our guide for the tour was Michael Muehlbauer, who is a staff member at POP. We biked up from the Art Museum, took advantage of a closed MLK Drive, and met him at the orchard at the Horticulture Center, where we were given an overview of POP’s work and saw our first fruit trees of the day. Ride participant Cat Farman said, “My favorite part of the ride was taking car-free MLK Drive to West Fairmount Park and biking through the lovely trees there to get to our first orchard.”

group photo on Strawberry Mansion bridge

Ride participants stop for a photo op on the Strawberry Mansion Bridge

We then took in the view at Belmont Plateau, suffered through a few small hills, crossed the Strawberry Mansion Bridge, and made it to our next stop, Woodford Mansion. We were greeted by Martha Moffat, site manager, who shared how instrumental the orchard has been in building a connection between the historic site and the neighborhood. At this point in the tour, ride participants were very grateful for the Original 13 cider and Philly Foodworks fruit donations.

Group eats snacks

Thanks to Philly Foodworks and Original 13 for keeping us fueled!

After our stop at Historic Strawberry Mansion, we left the bike lanes and trails of Fairmount Park. This was the first part of the tour that involved riding on busy city streets. While we took the lowest-stress streets we could find, we couldn’t avoid high-stress streets, as West Hunting Park Avenue where the Share Food Program is located is part of the High Injury Network. The importance of advocating for safer streets was made apparent, as the community needs to be able to safely access the resources offered by Share and POP.

Farman shared, “I learned from Michelle Lawson (an incredible advocate and urban agriculture expert) that Share Food Program is providing emergency food assistance to hungry families in Philly -over 600,000 people a month, and it’s still not enough to meet demand.”

Share Food Program Orchard

Urban agriculture expert, academic, and POP Board Member Michelle Lawson introduces the group to the impressive orchard sites at Share.

It was a unique experience to see how Philadelphia’s various community organizations are working together to make the city a better place, and how the issues of mobility justice and food access interact. Thank you to POP for riding with us on Sunday!

Interested in taking the tour on your own? You can find the route below.

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