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Monday, April 15, 2024
‘We’re in a bit of a dry spell now’: Bikes for Farmworkers supply runs low
Bikes for Farmworkers volunteer Neil Donald is all smiles as he works on repairing a bike. Richard Hutton Richard Hutton
Bikes for Farmworkers volunteer Doug Munkley works on repairs for a bicycle that will soon find its way into the hands of a seasonal farm worker in NOTL. Richard Hutton
Bikes for Farmworkers volunteer Leslie Mann with the lone bicycle awaiting repair in the group's workshop. Richard Hutton

With hundreds of seasonal agricultural workers set to come to town to work the farms in Niagara-on-the-Lake, many will be looking for a way to get around.

Right now, however, the organization that helps provide them with an affordable mode of transportation says its supply is dwindling in numbers.

Since 2017, the Gateway Community Church’s Bikes for Farmworkers has been repairing bicycles donated by the community.

The bicycles are fully reconditioned and then sold for $25 to workers for their personal use.

Last year, the group, made up of volunteers working in their spare time, sold 368 bikes, down slightly from 2022’s 420.

This year, 150 bikes have been repaired and are ready to go.

But for program co-ordinator Ken Eden and the volunteers, therein lies the problem — they need more bikes. 

“We’re in a bit of a dry spell now,” Eden said as a small group tended to repairs on the remaining few bicycles the group currently has on hand. “We’ve fixed all that we have.”

With that in mind, Bikes for Farmworkers will host a bicycle drop-off on Saturday, March 16, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the shop housed in the former Virgil Public School, located at 1665 Creek Rd. (at the corner of Field Avenue).

“We’re looking for repairable adult bikes,” Eden said.

It’s not the first time the group has found itself short of bikes, he added.

“We ran into this last year, too, only we ran into it a little later.”

Money from the sale of bicycles goes to help cover the cost of parts needed to fix them.

“The bike shops treat us really, really well on the supplies we buy,” Eden said. “They treat us really great.”

While a bike may be something many people take for granted, for the workers, it’s a means of having a measure of independence while they’re here in the country, Eden said.

“The vast majority – you might as well say all of them – say it’s their only means of personal transportation.”

Volunteer Leslie Mann said it’s unusual for the group to run out of bikes to repair so early.

“Normally, at the beginning of the season or in the winter, these would all have been bikes ready to repair,” he said, pointing to rows of bikes being stored at the shop. “We’ve already done them all.”

For more information on the Bikes for Farmworkers program contact Eden at 289-547-7442 or at gatewaynotl.com/bikes.


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