By Michael S. Rohde
Recently, I met with officials from Bike Walk Connecticut, a Connecticut nonprofit organization devoted to encouraging and supporting more biking and hiking in our state.
Their mission is:“Changing the culture of transportation through advocacy and education to make bicycling and walking safe, feasible, and attractive for a healthier, cleaner Connecticut.” They will be joining the Meriden Farmers Market for the “Back to School” theme day taking place at the Meriden Green on Saturday, Sept. 7, from 8:30 a.m. until noon (they were here to review the site for their event).
Bike Walk Connecticut will be offering a bike safety day at the amphitheater that will include free bike helmets (and fittings), bike safety checks, a safety riding course, and bike safety instruction. They will also be bringing 20 bicycles (mostly smaller sizes) for youngsters to try out. This is especially timely as Meriden children will be riding their bikes in the good weather.
I spoke with the executive director of Bike Walk Connecticut, Susan Smith, who said: “We are thrilled to provide the Meriden community with bicycle safety demonstrations and on-bike handling skills instruction. We welcome cyclists of all ages to learn to ride more confidently and safely. Bring your helmet. Join the fun."
Meriden police officers from the Neighborhood Initiative Bike Patrol Unit will also be on hand to ride with the children and assist with the bike course supervision, helmet fittings, and bike safety inspections.
As we were touring the green with Susan (her first time visiting Meriden), she was amazed at the magnitude of the green project and all the trails that were available. I explained that Meriden also has a linear trail project that is moving in phases (phase I and II are complete) that will intersect the green and continue to the northeast corner of the city.
She was delighted to hear this news and said we should do more to get the word out. At this point (I was on a roll), I told her about the four major hiking trails in Meriden (Hubbard Park, Giuffrida Park, Hanover Pond, and Higby/Beseck) that offered some of the finest hikes and best views in Connecticut. Susan was duly impressed with all the outdoor resources our community has available.
In addition to the bike safety program on September 7, the farmers market will be featuring a DJ, games and prizes, face painting, and healthy snacks. “Nutrition Central” will provide live cooking demonstrations for healthy eating by chef Kashia Cave of“My City Kitchen. She will be assisted by Umekia Taylor, UConn Department of Extension, Agricultural Nutrition Program and “Nutrition Central” partner who will be providing helpful nutrition information.
Valentin Karate, also a partner, will provide an obstacle course and karate demonstrations for children including how to break boards.
The Meriden Farmers Market is now nearly halfway through the season and it has been the best season ever, setting a record for the number of customers and vendors including seven farmers. One farmer commented that he “had the best market day ever.”
This year there is a much greater variety of produce, including farm-fresh eggs, local honey, and even watermelons. Fresh-baked bread sells out weekly. The market also surpassed last season’s number of free lunches that have been distributed by the Meriden Board of Education Summer Nutrition Program. And the popular “Doubling Dollars” program has also exceeded last year’s participation as Meriden seniors and families on the food assistance program have enjoyed their additional purchasing power. Meriden can be justifiably proud of their thriving Meriden Farmers Market.
Come visit the market on Saturday, September 7 for the “Back to School” theme day and join the Bike Walk Connecticut festivities. It’s fun for the entire family!
Michael S. Rohde is a former mayor and city councilor of Meriden.