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Queens by Bike: Asian Feastival’s Tour du Jour

It’s almost been two years since I first moved to Queens, adiposity but I find that there is still so much to see and explore.  Since most of my friends either live in Brooklyn or Manhattan, I’m usually biking across the Pulaski Bridge into Brooklyn or hopping on the subway to Manhattan; I really haven’t had much of a chance to explore my own borough.  But this all changed when I began to prepare and plan for Asian Feastival.  In the past few months, I’ve spent more time in Queens than ever before.  As a result, I’ve gotten a chance to know more Queens people and Queens places, and I really love it.

When the idea of doing an Asian Feastival bike tour came up, the first person that came to mind was Youngsun Lee.  A Korean chef born in Seoul and raised in Queens, he first began biking to get in shape for the snowboarding season but now he is an equally expert biker.  Together with Emily Lew, Asian Feastival graphic designer and correspondent, we discussed our shared passion for biking between bites of teok (Korean rice cakes) at the Asian Feastival press conference.  By the time the conference was over it was settled, we were going to take it to the streets and do the bike tour.  The fourth biker in our bike brigade was Jeff Orlick.  Having lived in Jackson Heights for the past two years, he’s been spreading a good dose of Queens love through food.  Organizing Queens-centric food gatherings and events, he’s been exploring the culinary landscape of Queens and bringing people together through a shared love for exploratory eating.

Bike Crew
Emily, Jeff and Youngsun

Two Tuesdays ago, the four of us set off to test out the tour to get an idea of which roads to take, which stops to make, and to spend a nice sweaty Tuesday afternoon exploring the streets of Queens by bike.  Meeting in front of the Queens Museum of Art, we started off through the World’s Fairgrounds at Flushing Meadows Corona Park and made our way to our first stop, a local Korean community garden.

youngsun
Youngsun deciphering the community board at the garden

guys, let's love the flowers!

scallion row
A tall patch of scallions

Hidden amongst the neighboring residential and commercial buildings, the Korean community garden is just a stone’s throw away from the busy streets of downtown Flushing, yet it feels like a hidden oasis amidst the daily hustle and bustle of the area.  Divided into several plots, the gated garden was lush even in the thick of the summer heat.  We brushed past rows of scallions, green and deep burgundy perilla (sesame) leaves, tall stalks of amaranth, and other plants, while we watched the elderly Korean gardeners tend to their shared plots.  With a watering hose or hoe in hand, outfitted in complete trend-bending gardening regalia, they seemed so at peace sitting in plastic beach chairs, tilling the land and tending to each manicured plot with such great dedication.  There was no plant left thirsty or uncared for.

runner up

winner of best gardening outfit
One of the winning gardening outfits of the day

hello cute old korean people

perilla leaves
Perilla (sesame) leaves

hot peppers
Korean hot red peppers


Amaranth off in the distance

Touring Queens by bike is an amazingly visceral experience — it’s just you, the road, and the wind in your face.  Since the areas in Queens that I frequent tend to be either near a subway station or a high traffic area when I’m traveling by car, I never really considered the borough to be much of a looker when it came to landscape and scenery.  I made a wrong assumption.  For the next leg of the bike route, we rolled through the bike paths along several parks, winded down shady tree-lined paths, and breezed by the quaint residential areas.  Riding through the pathways and streets at a bike’s pace is one of the best ways to instill some Queens pride.

emily and youngsun the tour leader
Emily and Youngsun locating the bike path

After our leisurely stroll in the garden, we mounted our bikes and pedaled off to our next destination: The Queens County Farm Museum.  Right off the Littleneck Parkway, the Queens County Farm Museum comprises of 47 acres of New York City’s largest remaining tract of farmland and the oldest continuously run farm in New York State, a historical site whose mission is to restore, preserve Queens County’s agricultural, horticultural and viticulture past.  On a typical day, you can find volunteers weeding the watermelon patch, young families visiting the farm, and troupes of visiting children from schools and summer camps.

The farm is home to many furry residents. Let’s meet some:

llamas
Grazing llamas

ducks
Ducks


Lazy goats


Nosy goats

little ears
Small-eared goats

itchy goats
Itchy goats

i spy a turkey
A lonesome turkey

pigs
And these two porkers

After our meet and greet with the animals, we met with Amy, the director of the Queens County Farm Museum.  Even after working there for twenty years, she still gushes with passion and enthusiasm when she talks about the farm.

where the caretaker lives and cooking lessons are taught

Edgar, one of the workers on the farm, was kind enough to walk us through a quick tour.  First stop was the Adriance Farmhouse.  Built in 1772 and done in the Flemish style, the farmhouse is where cooking lessons are held and the general caretaker of the farm resides. Stepping inside, lingering smells from the last meal cooked in the kitchen perfumes the farmhouse with the woodsy smell of roast pork.

fireplace / kitchen
Dutch kitchen

edgar and a lantern
Edgar showing us a wind-resistant lantern

foot-operated fan chair
In the far corner of the living room is a foot-operated fan chair. If you step on the lever, it triggers the wooden flap to sway from side to side for a fanning effect

Across from the Adriance House is the farm store where produce, eggs, and other farm products are sold, in addition to other artisanal products such as their namesake Queens County Farm Museum wine made from the grapes on their vineyard and processed in Long Island.

farm store
The farm store

farm store
Inside the farm store: eggs, lollypops, herbs, and jam

queens county farm museum wine
Queens County Farm Museum wine

Edgar led us into the chicken coop and the hens didn’t seem to mind our company, continuing to strut about, lay eggs, and eat grain.  While Edgar passed around some freshly laid eggs, Jeff was busy picking up some ladies — as in some hens.

mad chickens!
A grain buffet

jeff and chicken
Jeff and his new lady friend


Welcome to the chicken house

Aside from the farm animals, another major attraction at the farm is the corn maze, which changes shape every year (this year it’s supposed to look like an ipod). Hand-cut by farmhands after using lasers to direct the design, it isn’t much of a maze right now, but come fall the stalks will be tall and the maze will ready.

corn maze in the making
The ipod corn maze in the making

To conclude our farm tour, we ended at the vegetable patch, comprised of neat rows of vegetables and flowers.  The produce harvested here is picked and then sold at local farmer’s markets.

We looped back into the parking lot of the Queens Museum of Art slightly tanner and sweatier than when we started, but the 22 mile ride was worth every drop of sweat.  Thanks to Emily, Jeff and Youngsun for an epic ride.

To join the “Tour du Jour”, email biketour@asianfeastival.com with your Brown Paper Ticket purchase confirmation and we will send you a waiver with detailed instructions about the ride.  See you at Flushing Meadows Corona Park at 8:30am on September 6th!

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3 Responses to Queens by Bike: Asian Feastival’s Tour du Jour

  1. Maangchi says:

    omg, I am really interested in visiting the farm! How can I get there. I can’t ride a bike. : )

    • Veronica says:

      The community garden is located at Oak St and Colden Avenue in Flushing, you should definitely go and check it out. There’s a man who sells Asian vegetable seeds right outside the garden too. Only got to briefly say hi to you on Monday, but would love to catch up another time!

  2. Jenny says:

    Very cool! I love visiting farms and gardens.

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