Bike Farm, a vital oasis in our community, is drying up and needs our help

An oasis for many riders in our community.
(Photos: Eric Thornburg/No Lens Cap)

Bike Farm in northeast Portland is based on a simple tenet: be open to everyone regardless of what they look like, what they believe, or how how much money they have. That’s why it’s been such a difficult blow to the organization and the people they serve to have been closed for over a month due to coronavirus concerns.

If you’re lucky enough to have a repair stand and tools at home (and the skills to use them), or if you can confidently stride into your local bike shop and get the service you need, you might not understand the value of a place like Bike Farm. This nonprofit, volunteer-run cooperative is a welcoming place full of used parts, tools anyone can use, and people eager to help you use them. They demystify bike repair and create self-reliant riders who are the backbone of our resilient transportation system.

Leaders of Bike Farm made the decision to close on March 13th, 10 days before Governor Kate Brown issued the “Stay Home” order. The plan was to re-open two weeks later, but ongoing virus fears have kept their doors locked. With no source of income during these warmer spring days when they usually get swamped with volunteers and customers, the outlook for them to keep up with rent and other operational expenses gets more ominous with each passing week.

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An interview with Momoko Saunders, co-founder of Bike Farm

Momoko Saunders.

This is the second installment of our Women’s Bike Month interview series written by Steph Routh. Don’t miss her interview with Meeky Blizzard. This content is sponsored by the Community Cycling Center and Gladys Bikes.

Momoko Saunders is the quintessential behind-the-scenes creator. There are those who take their applause from a stage, and those who hear their work appreciated from the back of the room. Momoko has held a hallowed place in the latter category, and it’s time to shine a light on her work.

As co-founder of Bike Farm, a nonprofit dedicated to bike repair and education, Momoko developed the administrative back-end that makes or breaks any new enterprise. She volunteers on the Board of Portland Society and is an iOS developer by trade.

Momoko and I met up at the Community Cycling Center office, which happens to be right around the corner from Bike Farm.

How did you get started in biking?
I didn’t get into biking seriously until Bike Farm and then not seriously myself until my bike tour. And then I never looked back.

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Bike Farm launches pay-what-you-can wrench night for Spanish speakers

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Wrench time at Bike Farm.
(Photo courtesy Bike Farm)

Portland’s volunteer-driven do-it-yourself bike repair shop kicked off 2015 with a cool initiative: a night for people who speak Spanish or are learning to.

Bike Farm’s second monthly Noche Bilingüe is Tuesday, Feb. 10, from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Assuming interest keeps growing, it’ll continue on the second Tuesday of each month.

Bike Farm, located just north of NE Broadway at 1810 NE 1st Ave is a place where anyone can rent a repair stand for $5 an hour and use tools and free advice from volunteers and other users. You can also skip the hourly fees by purchasing a membership.

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Opening day fire causes serious damage at the Bike Farm

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

View from outside Bike Farm this morning.
(Photos: Melinda Musser)

The non-profit, all-volunteer Bike Farm celebrated its opening day at its new location yesterday. Then this morning, volunteers awoke to news that an overnight fire destroyed all their tools and caused significant damage throughout their space at 1810 NE 1st Avenue.

Bike Farm board member Momoko Saunders said the cause of the fire was grease-filled rags that spontaneously combusted overnight. “It’s pretty intense,” she told us via telephone a few minutes ago, as she surveyed the damage. “It burnt the entire nine-foot workbench. There’s just one 2×4 left.” It addition to the workbench, the fire melted and destroyed all their workstands and tools. Fortunately, the side of the shop with a selection of used and new parts and accessories didn’t burn.

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Bike Farm growing into new location

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Bike Farm volunteers have blank slate
at their new space.
(Photos: Bike Farm)

Bike Farm, the plucky all-volunteer collective that educates people about how to ride and work on their bikes, is set for a major move.

Their new location, 1810 NE 1st Avenue (map) will make them much more accessible to a larger portion of Portlanders and it will give more space than their current 760 square-foot shop on NE Wygant. The location, just off N Williams and north of Broadway, also places them in a burgeoning hub of bike organizations and businesses that includes the offices of Portland Design Works, the Community Cycling Center, and Planet X/Titus.

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Bike Farm in full bloom as spring season picks up

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

[Editor’s note: This story was written by BikePortland News Intern Dan Liu. Stay tuned for more photos and stories from Dan!]

Volunteer James Moore in action.
(Photos: Dan Liu)

Last fall, North Portland bike repair and tool co-op Bike Farm celebrated its one-year anniversary by moving into a new space — one where the young non-profit now must make rent.

In other words, “We’re excited for the summer,” says Bike Farm’s volunteer analyst Momoko Saunders. “We really hope that the bike community will come out and support us as the weather gets better.”

At their new location in a former hair salon on 305 NE Wygant St., (their old location had been a donated residential garage off Alberta), Bike Farm has officially survived the winter slow-season thanks to individual memberships, donations, and volunteers’ sweat.

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