On Sunday, June 10, a couple of dozen intrepid bicyclists will pump up their tires and roll out of the driveway of a farm northwest of Antigo to begin the fourth annual Ride to Farm.
They have two objectives. One is to ride 200 miles to Madison in time for a Tuesday, June 12, appearance at the state Future Farmers of America convention. The other - the real purpose of the trip - is to raise endowment funds and awareness for the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers.
To reach the first objective, they'll need good bikes, good maps, energy bars, spare tubes and probably a handful of ibuprofen. To reach the second, they're collecting pledges and encouraging the
public to meet them at stops along the way.
Along the route they'll visit farms operated by graduates of the WSBDF, a University of Wisconsin-Madison program that offers classroom instruction, on-farm internships, business planning and
lifetime mentoring. About 230 students have attended the program. Three-quarters of the school's graduates are actively farming.
The school is led by Dick Cates and Jennifer Taylor of UW-Madison's Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. The curriculum is offered as part of the university's Farm and Industry Short Course. Teachers include UW-Madison faculty, veteran farmers, farm lenders and other agribusiness professionals.
The public is invited to a 9 a.m. sendoff event at the farm of 1998 WSBDF graduates Alex and Tricia Crockford, of Deerbrook. Around 11 a.m., they'll drop by a farm in Aniwa operated by 2004 graduate Carly Blado. After overnighting in Waupaca, on Monday, June 11, the group will ride to Wautoma for lunch at the local Culver's restaurant. On Tuesday, they'll ride from Portage to the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, site of the annual state FFA convention.
School and ride sponsors include American Transmission Co., Culver's Franchising, FCS-Financial Services, FCS Wisconsin, Organic Valley Family of Farms, Sue and Roland G. Stephenson Family Foundation and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
Supporters can make a pledge by contacting Carol Chapa at the UW Foundation at (608) 265-4049 or email@example.com or by downloading a pledge form at www.cias.wisc.edu/dairysch.html.
For more information on the ride or the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Producers, contact Cates at (608) 588-2836 or Taylor at (608) 265-7914.