Our last event of the weekend brought us back to the community garden, where we started our 25 mile bicycle tour of four Clinton County farms. The weather forecast called for rain by 11 a.m., so we tried to rush along our 8:45 start time as fast as we could, expecting the best but preparing for the worst.
The first thing we noticed at the registration table, though, was that we were getting a lot more people than we expected. Based on pre-registration numbers and word-of-mouth interest, we expected 15 to 20 riders at most. By 8:30, 31 riders had showed up and registered, leading us to run out of tour shirts and water bottles. We apologized for running out of supplies, but we were secretly ecstatic that so many riders showed up to support us and our local farmers. (A sidenote: we are ordering more shirts this week for the riders who didn't receive one and for anyone who couldn't make the ride but would like to buy one. Only $10. See future posts.)
By 8:45, the Sagwagon was loaded up and the riders were eager to hit the road.
Our first stop was at Bethel Lane Farms, where Eric and Deborah Ward Beard had prepared a tossed salad with swiss chard and kale, some sliced oranges and bottled water, as well as some needed moral support. Deborah led riders around their front-yard farm, explaining their growing specialties and the history of their business.
Next stop on the tour was Peaceful Acres Lavender Farm, just a few miles down the road along scenic, sparsely traveled back-roads. On the way to the lavender farm, though, the rain started falling lightly, and the impending rainstorm loomed closer overhead in fast approaching clouds. The riders didn't seem to mind though.
At the lavender farm, Mike and Kym Prell prepared some now-famous lavender lemonade for the cyclists, and we took cover from the quickening rain inside the farm's gift shop.
Unfortunately, the rain really picked up as we were leaving the lavender farm, so the pictures stopped with the downpour. It really is unfortunate, too, because from talking to the riders, many of us were starting to hit our stride in the last fifteen or so miles of the tour, and Brad and Marcia Bergefurd's farm on St. Rt. 350 is a picturesque one.
By the time riders were done eating Brad's delicious varieties of watermelon and canteloupe and leaving the Bergefurd's Farm Market, the rain had picked up even more and showed no signs of abating. The last stop on the route, Bob Webb Farm on Fife Avenue, was left optional for riders who didn't feel comfortable riding in the rain. The rest of the group made its way back to the community garden
We were extremely grateful for all of the farmers for participating in our first Tour de Farm, and for all of the riders for embracing it. Not only were we able to raise more than $700 for Grow Food, Grow Hope, but we exposed a group of people to some of the most important and often overlooked members of our community: the farmers. We're already making changes to the 2010 Clinton County Tour de Farm, and we are excited to expand the event and hopefully double the number of farms and riders.
Thank you to all the participants, and keep your eyes open for next year's ride!