In mid-July, more than 450 cyclists set out on a farm-to-table bicycle ride from Pittsfield, Vt., to wind their way through central Vermont. It was a “wheelin’ and mealin’” ride, as one cyclist put it. They stopped at nine farms to refuel with chef-prepared local foods made with local farm ingredients, plus maple syrup shots, homemade ice cream and barbecue.
The event, Farm to Fork Fondo – Vermont, was organized by Wrenegade Sports. It’s a recreational ride that draws a mix of casual and competitive cycling enthusiasts. Similar organized bike rides across the country are drawing thousands of bike riders.
Farm to Fork Fondo — a spin on the Italian term “gran fondo” or “big ride” — is different than most, explains Tyler Wren, the event founder. These events build appreciation for locally produced foods and the people who produce them. More are scheduled for Pennsylvania and Vermont in August.
Linking their food to farms and families
“Farms that have survived hold the prime farmland or have diversified into beef cattle, pigs, turkeys, eggs, apples, honey and maple syrup,” says Wren. “The brightest change recently has come from young Vermonter farmers creating artisan cheeses, craft breweries, high-quality organic fruits and vegetables, and more.
“A major goal of the series is to provide opportunities for the cycling community to support and become better acquainted with the agricultural community. Rural Vermont is more than just gorgeous scenery. Connected to every beautiful barn are families doing work that is vital to our way of life.”
Riverside Farm and more than 60 volunteers from nonprofit groups helped make it a success. The event raised more than $3,000 for local nonprofits, including Rutland Area Food and Farm Link, Vermont Farmers Food Center, Vermont Foodbank, Stockbridge Commons Meetinghouse, Ripton Community Church and the Brandon Boys & Girls Club.
The next events in the series are in Lancaster County, Pa., on Aug. 5-6, and at Freeport, Maine, on Aug. 27-28. Two rides are already planned for 2017 in the Hudson Valley and again in Vermont. Go to farmforkfondo.com for more details.