On September 4 in Sussex County and September 24 in Warren County, rain or shine, hundreds of bicyclists will be strapping on their helmets to participate in the 4th annual Tour de Farm, a culinary journey that takes riders from farm to farm to promote the produce and products coming from the beautiful rolling hills of northwestern New Jersey.
At each event, participants pre-register online to complete one of three tours. The ‘Weekend Warrior,’ ‘Not-So Extreme,’ and ‘Extreme Tour’ routes range from 14 to 75 miles in length, and all include small farm tastings along the way, as well as a locally sourced, pre-ride farm breakfast that includes freshly baked breads, oatmeal, fruit, bacon, sausage, egg wraps, fritattas, coffee, tea and fresh New Jersey cider.
Tickets range in price from $105 to $175 depending on how close to the event date your registration is submitted.
The Sussex event takes place at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta, and for an additional fee of $125 there will be a post-ride farm-to-fork luncheon from noon until 3 pm that will feature three different appetizers, salads and main dishes and two desserts prepared by Redwoods Caterers. Included on the menu are ale and cheddar sausage, heirloom Jersey tomatoes with freshly made burrata mozzarella and Walleye pike with avocado salsa.
Race Farm in Blairstown is host to the Warren tour, where the celebration meal at 1 p.m. is provided by Jeanny Race, and highlights of the three-course meal are sesame ginger scallops, slow-roasted free-range chicken with garlic and kalamata olives in tomato white wine broth and caramel apple brownies topped with Race’s homemade ice cream.
Mitch Morrison, the event organizer, who also owns and operates the Sparta Farmer’s Market, one of the state’s fastest growing year around suppliers of local produce, works tirelessly to promote the state’s farmers and help them bring healthy, local products to the public.
Morrison patterned the program after a similar tour held every year in Vermont. “It’s all about promoting the farmers and the farms,” says Morrison. “We ask our participants to purchase stuff as they go from farm to farm, and I have volunteers who bring the items back to the end of the tour to load in their car.”
As a retired IT specialist, Morrison, 58, now works full-time volunteering with various organizations, but he is passionate about the issues surrounding our food supply and accessibility to healthy options.
He feels that the health issues surrounding poor eating habits are threatening to bankrupt our nation, but also acknowledges that eating right can be an expensive proposition. To that end, he has started the GIFT (Give it Fresh Today) program at the market where shoppers can purchase items for donation, and various local chefs volunteer to use the donations to create meals that are regularly delivered to the needy.
“We have really awesome farms in New Jersey and really beautiful countryside,” says Morrison. “And we have really excellent local, healthy food, right here.”Click here to leave a comment