Tour de Farms Traverses New Course

By Alessandria Schumacher

This past Saturday, Sept. 26, the Tour de Farms bike ride kicked into gear with a new route including more of the northeastern part of Addison County. Now in its eighth year, the Tour de Farms is an annual 37-mile bike ride around the Vermont countryside that stops at various farms, features local foods and benefits Addison County Relocalization Network (ACORN), a local non-profit.

The ride began at the recreation fields behind Mt. Abraham Union High School. The ACORN website suggests bikers plan at least five hours for the ride, which includes ten minutes at each stop, though many may want to stay at the farms longer.

At the start, there were two tents set up for registration.  Representatives from two local bike shops were there as well, ready to provide free assistance to anyone who needed bike repairs along the way.

Noah Klammer ’17 volunteered at the start before doing the ride himself.

“I was actually signed up to just do set-up on that very morning, so that was like 7 to 8, so as it turned out, the ride didn’t start till 8:30 or 9 anyway, so I helped with parking,” Klammer said.

“We had a lot of cars,” Klammer added, “which was kind of cool, because … people were hanging out, and not really tail-gaiting, but hanging out, fixing up bikes [and] talking.”

As bikers started out on their ride, they headed north from Bristol up through Monkton and soon left the pavement behind for gravel roads.  The ACORN website specifies that 13 miles of the ride will be on gravel road and suggests – in all capital letters – that bikers use “a mountain bike, hybrid bike or road bike with wide tires.”

“The terrain is hilly with a mix of paved and dirt roads so a mountain bike or road bike with wide tires is recommended,” explained ACORN in a press release.

Sophie Vaughan ’17 seemed to appreciate the varied terrain and views along the ride.

“It was gorgeous.  The ride had a lot of different landscapes. At one point we were sort of riding along the base of the mountain in Bristol, at other times we were passing rivers, and other times we were seeing mountains in the distance,” Vaughan said.

This route was different than that of the past seven years.  The old route used to go out by Shoreham and spend more time on paved roads.

Traffic was more of a problem since riders spent more time on the narrow shoulders of fast-paced roads.

“This was a great route because I think they really planned it so that you can take back roads.  You’re on gravel about half the time,” Klammer said.

“Traffic really wasn’t an issue, which made it really fun to just ride and not be worried about that.”

Not only did the new route keep bikers off busy roads, it made them ride on back roads they may never have reason to travel.

“There’s this whole area that’s between [route] 7 … and [route] 116 that people don’t go to.  It’s like Monkton, and Monkton Pond, and then Hinesburg, all this area,” explained Klammer, using his arms to show the north-south orientation of Routes 7 and 116 and pointing to the area in between.  “Most of New Haven is actually east of [Route 7].”

Along the ride, bikers stopped at a total of eight different farms.  There they had the chance to sample different foods and drinks from 18 different farms and restaurants.  Various businesses set up stands at the farms where the bikers did stop.  Farmers and businesses hailed mainly from Bristol, Monkton, New Haven and Hinesburg.

“You eat a lot of different types of food from vegetables to apple cider and cider donuts … at one station they had these maple donuts with cream – maple cream – on them, which I very much enjoyed. A lot of good roasted vegetables,” said Vaughan as she recalled all the delicious foods she had tasted.

“If this was like Top Chef, you know, I’d rate it ‘Most Creative,’” Klammer said, referring to one of his favorite foods along the ride. “At one of the farms – where they raise vegetables and they raise pigs – they had … pulled pork in coleslaw, but it was in a collard green wrap.  It was kind of a challenge … the leaf was really, really thick and you had to wrap it up, but it was kind of good! It was kind of like eating the pork inside of a coleslaw.”

About 300 people participated in the event.  Several students were among them.  Bike and food enthusiast also came from far and wide – at least a few hours – for this event.

“People come from all over New England,” commented Vaughan. “I was talking to a guy who came all the way up from Boston just for the day.”

Every year, the Tour de Farms requires the help of at least 20 volunteers on the day of the event.  In exchange for giving their time, volunteers, such as Vaughan and Klammer, get to ride for free.  For the majority of riders who did not volunteer at the event, the cost of registration is $35 in advance or $55 the day of.  All proceeds benefit ACORN and the farms.

According to the ACORN website, 25 percent of the fees for registration go to the farm partners.  Various businesses also sponsor the race.  The Tour de Farms is ACORN’s major annual fundraiser.

According to the home page of their website, “ACORN’s mission is to cultivate connections that promote the production and use of healthy, local food in Addison County, Vermont.”

“We are working with growers, schools, businesses and community and statewide partners to double the consumption of locally-grown food by 2020,” stated the press release about the event.  ACORN takes a project-based approach to tackling issues of local, healthy food production and consumption. They provide mentoring, networking and financial support for those who have a project idea in line with their mission.

Many people seemed to be having a jolly time participating in the event and supporting a good cause.

“It was really nice to see the fall color change and just spend a Saturday outside, six hours or so, riding a bike, enjoying the community with people beyond the Middlebury campus,” Vaughan said.

“100 percent,” said Klammer when asked whether he would do it again.  “I’ve been trying to encourage people to look into it.  I think one thing is people [students] are reluctant to pay any kind of entry fee, like being at Middlebury where we get so much free stuff … But also you can do what Sophie and I did … They usually need a couple dozen volunteers, and then that’s a way you can ride for free.”

“The Tour is a one-of-a-kind experience,” said Jonathan Corcoran, ACORN’s Executive Director, in a press release. “People keep coming back to share a relaxing day with family and friends to experience the flavors of the fall harvest, the beauty of the land and its fall colors and the great people who make our local food community special.”

Traffic wasn’t really an issue, which made it really fun to just ride and not be worried about that.”

Not only did the new route keep bikers off busy roads, it Klammer, using his arms to show the north-south orientation of Routes 7 and 116 and pointing to the area in between.  “Most of New Haven is actually east of [Route 7].”

Along the ride, bikers stopped at a total of eight different farms.  There they had the chance to sample different foods and drinks from 18 different farms and restaurants.  Various businesses set up stands at the farms where the bikers did stop.

Farmers and businesses hailed mainly from Bristol, Monkton, New Haven and Hinesburg.

“You eat a lot of different types of food from vegetables to apple cider and cider donuts … at one station they had these maple donuts with cream – maple cream – on them, which I very much enjoyed. A lot of good roasted vegetables,” said Vaughan as she recalled all the delicious foods she had tasted.

“If this was like Top Chef, you know, I’d rate it ‘Most Creative,’” Klammer said, referring to one of his favorite foods along the ride. “At one of the farms – where they raise vegetables and they raise pigs – they had … pulled pork in coleslaw, but it was in a collard green wrap.  It was kind of a challenge … the leaf was really, really thick and you had to wrap it up, but it was kind of good! It was kind of like eating the pork inside of a coleslaw.”

About 300 people participated in the event.  Several students were among them.  Bike and food enthusiast also came from far and wide – at least a few hours – for this event.

“People come from all over New England,” commented Vaughan. “I was talking to a guy who came all the way up from Boston just for the day.”

Every year, the Tour de Farms requires the help of at least 20 volunteers on the day of the event.  In exchange for giving their time, volunteers, such as Vaughan and Klammer, get to ride for free.  For the majority of riders who did not volunteer at the event, the cost of registration is $35 in advance or $55 the day of.  All proceeds benefit ACORN and the farms.

According to the ACORN website, 25 percent of the fees for registration go to the farm partners.  Various businesses also sponsor the race.  The Tour de Farms is ACORN’s major annual fundraiser.

According to the home page of their website, “ACORN’s mission is to cultivate connections that promote the production and use of healthy, local food in Addison County, Vermont.”

“We are working with growers, schools, businesses and community and statewide partners to double the consumption of locally-grown food by 2020,” stated the press release about the event.  ACORN takes a project-based approach to tackling issues of local, healthy food production and consumption. They provide mentoring, networking and financial support for those who have a project idea in line with their mission.

Many people seemed to be having a jolly time participating in the event and supporting a good cause.

“It was really nice to see the fall color change and just spend a Saturday outside, six hours or so, riding a bike, enjoying the community with people beyond the Middlebury campus,” Vaughan said.

“100 percent,” said Klammer when asked whether he would do it again.  “I’ve been trying to encourage people to look into it.  I think one thing is people [students] are reluctant to pay any kind of entry fee, like being at Middlebury where we get so much free stuff … But also you can do what Sophie and I did … They usually need a couple dozen volunteers, and then that’s a way you can ride for free.”

“The Tour is a one-of-a-kind experience,” said Jonathan Corcoran, ACORN’s Executive Director, in a press release. “People keep coming back to share a relaxing day with family and friends to experience the flavors of the fall harvest, the beauty of the land and its fall colors and the great people who make our local food community special.”

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