E-assist cargo bike helps farmer ditch the truck

E-assist cargo bike helps farmer ditch the truck

Josh Volk on a delivery, riding across the St. Johns Bridge.
(Image from a video by Ryan Creason)

Josh Volk runs Slow Hand Farm, a small community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm on Sauvie Island. The soil is great out there and it’s a nice place to grow veggies, but there’s just one problem: It’s about 15 miles from the nearest neighborhoods where his drop sites are. Josh could use a truck to make the deliveries; but instead, he uses a cargo bike.

Josh pedals the 15-18 mile from his farm plot on Sauvie Island into Portland’s neighborhoods. His pedal-powered deliveries recently landed him on the cover of Oregon Small Farm News.

Volk says he’s been doing all his CSA deliveries by bike since June thanks to a collaboration with Splendid Cycles in southeast Portland. Splendid is a cargo bike specialty shop and owners Joel and Barb Grover have established something of a niche in outfitting business owners.

Joel set up Josh’s rig — a Bullitt model made by Larry vs Harry — with electric assist. “He’s riding long miles, riding hard, and hauling equipment,” Joel says. “We may be biased but, I don’t think he could do what he does with any other cargo bike but the e-assist Bullitt.” One big advantage the Bullitt has over other cargo bikes is the very low center-of-gravity of the front bin. Joel says he’s sold a couple dozen Bullitt’s in the past few years and that it makes it “pretty easy” to ride 25-30 miles in and around Portland with 100 pound loads, “And have enough energy to accomplish the other things in your life.”

Josh will be delivering his harvests from Sauvie Island through December; but by April of next year he’ll be all set up with a new farm in Sherwood. “I still hope to use the bike as much as possible… It’s not more mileage, just more hills,” says Josh. With his new farm being four times the size, he’s eager to see if the bike delivery scales up. “I’ll have three more people working with me and I’ll have to see whether or they can start delivering by bike as well.”

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