A Tasty Tour
Written onSeptember 01 , 2011
Year One: A Good Cause. Managing our farm, my wife and I try to respect a Sunday off, cultivating diversity in our lives as we do in our fields. So in September 2008, a neighbor and I chose to ride the first annual "Tour de Farms," an Addison County bike-to-farms ride of various lengths, organized by Rural Vermont, the Addison County Relocalization Network (ACORN), and the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition. Having chosen the 30-mile loop, the rolling hills of Addison County on that clear morning were stunning. The farms that welcomed riders each had a unique character and offered plenty of smiles and samples: bread, maple syrup, meats, cheeses, yogurt, wine, apples, and cider donuts. Having treated ourselves, I was home in time to feed the pigs.
Year Two: Friends and Family. Word was out: The Tour is Vermont quality, accessible to all. Family members joined me in 2009, choosing the shorter 10-mile loop, but afterward they felt they could have gone farther. I repeated the 30-mile, taking in more details of the land. A few farms had changed, a few were added. There were many more riders, better coordination, improved road signs, and the post-ride gathering at the Shoreham town green was a larger event, offering music, food and celebration. I returned home in time to move our sheep to fresh pasture.
Year Three: Local Abundance. I chose the 25-mile loop last year. I enjoyed the change and saved more energy for the last few challenging hills. Summers in Vermont come and go too quickly to allow me more than a handful of rides each growing season; most of my "cycling" is done from house to field and field to house. But during this third tour, I stayed on longer at the farms, talking with other growers. I made some scribbled notes on the back of the map: varieties, techniques, phone numbers. The ride offered me a rare opportunity to visit a handful of skilled producers during the height of the growing season. Having moved the sheep early that morning, I lingered at the green.
Year Twenty? Feed the Revolution. The ride—set to take place this year on Sunday, September 18—also offers plenty of opportunity to quietly consider the land, as it is now, and as it could become. I can imagine a future Vermont of farms, forests, rivers, hilltops, and towns, all served by dedicated bike paths, well constructed and well marked—a true rural transportation alternative. The trails would connect town to town across the state, linking inns, B&Bs, ski resorts, natural areas, and of course, working farms. The Vermont bike trail system would become a destination for visitors, a link for communities, a path for wildlife, and a market opportunity for farm stands and pick-your-owns. Locals and visitors alike would appreciate the quiet and beauty of the working landscape, while pedaling from point to point, powered by the energy of local produce. That's a picture of sustainability.
See you at Year Four! To register for the September 18th Tour de Farms, go to ruralvermont.org/events/tdf/ or call Rural Vermont at 802-223-7222. Advance registration ends on September 12 but day-of registrations are accepted.