Smooth Ride: A Lesson in Partnership

If you’ve been to the Easton Farmers’ Market (located in the parking lot on North Harrison Street), 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 YMCA 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 guests. Welcome to Talbot Mentor’s Smoothie Bike and Produce Stand.

A Talbot Mentee is making a strawberry smoothie at the Farmers’ Market in Easton. It’s open every Saturday through December. The Talbot Mentors Produce Stand and the Smoothie Bike are located at the “People’s Place” in the Peoples Bank parking lot.

The Smoothie Bike was not part of the original plan envisioned a couple of years ago when Talbot Mentors (TM) joined the Farmers’ Market. At the time, they were looking for a place to sell the produce cultivated from its Community Garden located at the TM office on Maryland Avenue. 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, Insurance Co. and Jim Fodrie, Facilities Director at the Easton YMCA, helped by building a portable farmers’ market stand on a boat trailer. Chesapeake Harvest found local growers and the BAAM’s (Building African-American Minds) farm stand efforts supplemented the produce for sale. Last year, Ryan Groll, owner of Eat Sprout, came across a smoothie bike and the Dock Street 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.

We asked Richard Marks, a TM Board of Directors member, if this was lucrative? “No, we’re happy to break even,” he admitted. “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, then why? TM hopes that the bike will draw people to the stand and learn more about Talbot Mentors’ mission. TM matches 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, and sponsorships. These 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.

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