On Saturday, September 29th, around 150 participants from Northfield, the Twin Cities, and as far away as Bemidji gathered to tour seven farms in Northfield, MN as part of the first annual Farm Bike Tour.
Participants spent the day enjoying the unseasonably warm weather and fall colors, biking to the different farms and participating in various sustainable agriculture and harvest themed activities.
All seven farms are Farm to Fork vendors of Bon Appetit at Carleton College and St. Olaf College, as well as a number of Twin Cities accounts.
Participants started off by registering for the event at either Carleton or St. Olaf, where they could borrow bikes and helmets for free, and received a passport with the events at each farm and a map of suggested routes between farms.
They could choose to follow the suggested route getting them to all 7 farms and back in under 20 miles, a shorter family friendly route with sidewalks, or tack on a 25 mile scenic road warrior addition.
People took off at their own pace, and were able to go to the farms they wanted for the activities that most interested them.
Some favorites were seeing the chickens at Main Street Project’s Rural Enterprise Center, harvesting potatoes at the Carleton Student Farm, and making corn husk dolls at Spring Wind Farm. There was even a “sag wagon” consisting of the cycling teams at both schools armed with patch kits, pumps, and replacement tubes to help anyone who had bike trouble en route.
Special guests on the ride were the Taste Editor from the Star Tribune, a reporter from St. Paul’s Pioneer Press, and 2 car loads full of Macalester students who made the drive down from St. Paul for the event.
The farms had activities from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., when the festival at SEEDS farm started. Around 300 people came to the festival at SEEDS farm to enjoy the live music from 5 local bands, activities such as screen printing your own event t-shirt on a secondhand shirt, and an amazing local and sustainable spread put together by Bon Appetit at Carleton and dessert by St. Olaf.
A shuttle ran between the two schools and the festival at SEEDS the entire time, ensuring a steady flow of folks eager to grab a bite and listen to the band while enjoying the sunset from their seats on straw bales.
Festival goers also had the chance to go home with awesome door prizes such as a gift basket to Peace Coffee, free bike tune-ups, a helmet, bike pump, and sunglasses.
The event was completely free for participants, funded by in-kind donations and community grants Midwest Fellow S.K. Piper helped the student organizers secure, with the food cost being covered by Bon Appetit at Carelton, St. Olaf, and Macalester Colleges.
At the festival, donations were accepted on behalf of Laughing Loon Farm to help owner and former BAMCO Fellow Dayna Burtness recover from the devastating summer floods, and the event raised $645 in donations for her to use towards hoop houses.
The first annual Farm Bike Tour was a huge success; we got such positive feedback, with many people thanking us for organizing such a fun community event. It was great to see the students at all three Bon Appetit schools and the entire community really come together for an amazing day of community building and learning about sustainable agriculture.