Greasing the Wheels of Progress

Folded paper, scale lumber, and drawings everywhere! The past week has seen a flurry of activity at BR+A+CE as the design phase of our mobile farm stand project picks up momentum.

We’re also happy to announce the newest addition to TEAM BR+A+CE! Designer, animal-lover, and all-around awesome individual Mykel Terada, comes to us fresh (very fresh) off her second year in RISD’s Master of Architecture program. Welcome aboard, Mykel!

The two of us have spent the past week talking folding frames, mechanical canopies, and all sorts of bells and whistles for the stand. We couldn’t be more excited about where we’re headed – as you can see from the wall in our office, we’re really thinking outside the (CSA) box. BR+A+CE, Mattapan Food & Fitness Coalition, and Brookwood Community Farm aren’t just going to bring delicious fruits and veggies to Mattapan, we’re going to bring the farm stand into the 21st century!

– John



Summer is finally here, and while we’re itching to be out riding our own bicycles, BR+A+CE has been hard at work designing the upcoming mobile farm stand for Mattapan!  While searching for inspiration, we came across these awesome images of extreme cargo bicycles in China from photographer Alain Dolorme and couldn’t resist sharing.


You can view the rest of Delorme’s “Totem” series at his website here.  More updates on the farm stand design to come soon!

– John

Officially “Awesome.”

Amazing!  We at BR-A-CE are pleased to announce our in-the-works Mobile Farm Stand project has been awarded a grant from the Awesome Foundation, the Boston-born philanthropists who give, in their own words, “a micro-genius grant for flashes of micro-brilliance.”  BR-A-CE is extra-specially honored to be recognized a second time by the Awesome Foundation – our pilot community design project, The Big Hammock, was kickstarted by an Awesome grant as well.

The funding will go towards the initial design and fabrication of the Mattapan Mobile Farm Stand, scheduled to launch by late summer.  We’re still looking for more sponsors & partners on the project, so if you too want to be officially Awesome, please drop us a line!  And do visit The Awesome Foundation’s website and Facebook page to give them a little reciprocal love.  Thanks, AF!

Wheeling & Tweaking: BR-A-CE First Fundraiser a Success!

John from BR-A-CE with a newly tuned-up cyclist!

We held BR-A-CE’s first official fundraiser this past Saturday, a bike and stroller tune-up for donations.  The venue was on the outskirts of Harvard Square, and though it was overcast, it was a pleasant enough day for our volunteer bike mechanics to set up right on the brick sidewalks.

We wound up recruiting enough cyclists in need of brake tweaking and chain degreasing to kick off our season of official fundraising for Mattapan’s Mobile Farm Stand.  It was also a great opportunity to get our name out and to get a little street publicity for the Mobile Farm Stand project.  If you didn’t get a chance to stop by, no worries – we’re already brainstorming another event, probably in Mattapan itself next time, or in Providence, RI.  Look for updates about that as soon as we have details nailed down.

Huge thanks go out to our bike mechanic and recruiter volunteers from the Rhode Island School of Design:  Kory Almryde; Kevin Saxon; Allison Johnson; Chris Ardoin; Saja Tourbah; and John DiSalvo.  And thanks to all those donors who stopped by!  You can find their names, as well as the list of all our donors, on our Donors page.

For now, it’s literally back to the drawing board with us, as we have a meeting scheduled next week to advance the design ideas for the Farm Stand.  It will be a great chance to get all our partners in the same room to have an in-depth discussion on what the owners & operators of the Farm Stand really need to make the project functional.  Summer’s just around the corner, but we’re still optimistic that we can catch the tail end of the market season.

In the meantime, the popularity of pedal-powered cargo bikes, mobile food carts, and DIY bike frame building seems to be exploding, according to recent articles in the Boston Globe and the New York Times.  It’s an exciting time for this kind of work!



Meeting Mattapan

The Mattapan Food & Fitness Coalition’s Vigorous Youth group help us sketch ideas for a mobile farm stand

This past Saturday was a really exciting day for us BR-A-CE folk – we got to meet with the staff of Mattapan Food & Fitness Coalition and, more importantly, their youth group, Vigorous Youth, to discuss further logistics and design ideas for the Mattapan Mobile Farm Stand project.  We met in Mattapan at the public library, a beautiful building in a totally vibrant neighborhood.  Vivien Morris from MFFC organized the meeting, and I think I speak for all of BR-A-CE when I say how lucky I feel that her strong and wise guiding hand is on the project.  MFFC is already participating in a number of food & nutrition activities in the Mattapan area, which I had known but was impressed by all over again.  I definitely think there are smart ways the Mobile Farm Stand can slot in organically into their existing work.

Some of the biggest questions on the table for the meeting were further operational logistics – namely, who will actually be running the stand, how often, and how will we pay them?  But it was fairly obvious immediately that the Vigorous Youth would be the perfect staffing: the assembled group – Glorie, Shavel’le, Holden, Jonathan, Stanley, and Kingsley – were all such a joy to meet.   We’ll all be fundraising for this summer, not just for the construction of the stand but also for the funds to cover the youth’s staff time for at least this first season.

We also discussed quite a bit about potential routes and sites for the stand to travel to throughout a typical summer weekday.  Blue Hill Avenue, the main street in Mattapan, is on a considerable slope, a definite factor when considering pedaling some sort of cargo-tricycle laden with produce!  The conversation proved to me all over again the importance of partnering with existing community groups – the MFFC and Vigorous Youth know their neighborhood inside and out.  Local knowledge is such an undersung and vital resource.

Perhaps most fun of all was the little design charrette we held at the meeting, presenting our design considerations and passing around blank paper for the Youth and MFFC staff to start brainstorming some fun ideas about the stand’s appearance and operations.    The responses ranged from a cart shaped like a banana to a motorcycle-tank hybrid pulling a fruit sled to a series of small “satellite” carts deployed from a mothership – so fun and creative.

Looking ahead, our next big push is to advertise our FUNDRAISER!  May 5th, next Saturday, we’ll be hosting a Bike & Stroller Clinic at Harvard’s Democracy Center from 10:00 – 4:00, fixing bikes and strollers up for the season in exchange for a small donation.  We’re spending some time this week flyering and getting the word out, so if you’ve got a bike (or two!) in need of maintenance, or just want to stop by and cheer us on and donate to a great cause, please come out!  We’d love to get at least thirty folks committed to coming out.  The money will all go towards the construction and staffing of the mobile farm stand.  See you there-!


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Brace is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Brace was founded by artists and designers to create new community spaces that engage social, economic, and cultural issues facing communities around the world.

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