BY ELYSE ANDREWS
For Wenzday Jane, work and life are inextricably intertwined. As the owner of Metro Pedal Power, Jane channels her belief in the benefits of bicycling and her passion for local, seasonal food into everything she does.
“Metro Pedal is the answer to the automobile-centric culture in the U.S.” Jane said. “We set out to show that bikes have a valid and useful place in the streets and that bikes have a lot to do with self-reliance.”
Billed as “Boston’s Human-Powered Delivery Service,” Metro Pedal has grown tremendously since it was founded in 2008. When the business started, Metro Pedal was delivering food baskets for one farm’s Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and now it has partnerships with nearly every farm in the area.
Jane knew the stress of working long hours and then rushing to her CSA pick-up, so she was eager to find a way to help more people participate in the local food culture.
“CSA home-delivery is the backbone of the business,” Jane said. “It can help busy people get involved in the CSA and get access to local food.”
It was this work that got Jane thinking about creating her own garden outside of the Metro Pedal offices near Union Square in Somerville, which actually used to be a Merlin bike factory in the 1980s and ’90s. She wanted to grow some food, but she also needed a place to go and unwind from the pressures of owning a small business.
“I like to take a break from work and put my hands in the dirt. It’s invigorating and relaxing,” Jane said.
What started as a few tomato plants in pots has now grown to include a greenhouse where Jane has grown spinach, arugula and cilantro during the winter as well as larger raised beds where broccoli, kale and salad mix grows in the summer. Jane’s urban farm also includes three chickens and a rooster, given to her by one of her farmer friends.
“I really like working with farmers,” Jane said. “We have a similar sensibility, do hard work and are in tune with the weather.”
Jane’s garden is fueled by compost that she makes in big blue bins, which contain food scraps from homes and businesses in the area. This is all part of the SoilCycle program, which Metro Pedal has partnered with Groundwork Somerville on.
Jane’s urban farm goes hand-in-hand with her philosophy that bikes enable self-reliance. Jane has always been into bikes, especially for utilitarian purposes, but really became passionate about the benefits of riding them when she started commuting to work on hers every day. She loved the mental and physical health benefits of daily exercise and the sense of control she got from getting around under her own power.
“Over the past four years or so, the bike community has coalesced,” Jane said. “It’s really encouraging to see more and more people out.”
Delivering food and collecting compost by bike isn’t always easy, but Jane says that riding in inclement weather and hauling heavy loads is worth it.
“When the opportunity came to be involved in this, it was the perfect thing,” Jane said. “You get the health benefits and the fun factor. It’s hard work, it’s tough, but you get such a rewarding feeling.”