Alexis Beshara, 21, has embarked on a summer journey of introspection and community-building by riding her bicycle across the country to plant community gardens and teach neighborhoods about agriculture.
“This is my coming of age,” says the recent University of Akron graduate, who begins her trip with Green Riders this week in New York City, planting gardens, working on organic and permaculture-based farms and throwing regional seed bombs. She’ll end her trip Aug. 18 in Oregon for the solar eclipse gathering.
While taking a class called “Reinventing Place,” an “Unclass” as part of the University of Akron’s Experiential Learning program, Beshara helped create bike paths throughout Akron that blurred the lines between the university and downtown. These bike paths inspired her to get back on a bicycle herself, so she started training for this tour throughout the past nine months.
The group comprises people from all ages and backgrounds, and they share a common mission to harvest the knowledge around community gardening.
“Community gardens empower people to grow their own food and sustain themselves in a way,” she says. “It’s important in cities and especially in food deserts where there is no grocery store nearby. Transportation of food from 3,000 miles is unsustainable when we can grow food in our communities.”
The group plans to carry out their objectives by leaving minimal impact on the environment, and they are set to camp all along the journey. Beshara carries 35 pounds of just the essentials, even planning to wash her clothing in collapsible buckets. She built her bicycle with the help of Summit Cycling Center, a community bicycle shop in downtown Akron. She doesn’t have any specific fears for the trip, but says she’s sure the biggest obstacles are to come along the way.
The most important theme of this journey to Beshara is community.
“Our species evolved because of villages, communities and dependencies on one another,” she says. “We don’t have that anymore, we lock ourselves away in our house, cars…our boxes.”
With seeds to plant not just in the ground but in the lives of others, Beshara says she’s ready for the journey that will change her life.
“Doing good in small amounts goes a long way; every little conscious choice and action has a rippling effect.”
Beshara plans to keep a blog with updates at https://www.makerbee.me/blog.