See the Fields on Wheels: Cyclists Visit Area Farms for Bike the Barns Event | New

ESSEX – Although the day started with frost, as it progressed the warm sun lit up the fall foliage along the route for Bikes the Barns participants as they navigated the roads, cutting through agricultural fields and woods.

Although down slightly from the 200 runners in pre-pandemic 2019, 175 participants from Georgia to Minnesota, including Bill Borzilleri, 88, of Lake Placid, spun one petal in front of the other as they strolled quietly in the Champlain Valley.

OUTSIDE

The event began and ended at Hub on the Hill, a food processing and distribution center and retail store where lunch was served and music provided by The Insolent Willies.

As she sipped on a hot coffee, Hayley Hughes from North Creek was not one to be intimidated by the bike ride as a few weeks earlier she had summited Mount Kilimanjaro.

“I love being here in the mountains and outdoors and meeting new people,” she explained to justify her participation in the event.

Janet Booth from Plattsburgh arrived with four of her Ride with Women on Wheels cycling group.

“I love biking and the scenery is a feast for the eyes. I also love the camaraderie of women who love to ride bikes. We are so lucky to live in this area,” Booth said.

NOT A RACE

BikeADK’s Doug Haney started the day with an energetic post in which he explained the route and safety precautions. “It’s not a race,” he said, warning runners to go at a pace that’s comfortable for them. BikeADK is a Saranac Lake-based company that specializes in regional cycling events.

The Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) hosted the Bike the Barns bike tour of North Country farms, local food businesses and agricultural landscapes. The approximately 30-mile day-long cycle tour included farm visits to Reber Rock Farm and Echo Farm in Essex, as well as Juniper Hill Farm in Wadhams.

“We’re excited to bring Bike the Barns back this year and look forward to celebrating our region’s vibrant food and farming scene with new and returning cyclists,” said Adam Dewbury, ANCA’s Local Food System Program Director. .

“We are delighted to welcome cyclists of all levels who want to engage more deeply with some of our local food producers.”

FARMS OF FARMS

Riders had the opportunity to visit and meet farmers at Reber Rock Farm, a 125-acre family farm specializing in organic pasture-raised meats; Echo Farm, a diverse and regenerative 170-acre farm and restaurant operation; and Juniper Hill Farm, an organic farm that produces fresh vegetables for local restaurants and grocers, farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture shareholders. community (ASC). Bike the Barns attendees learned from Hub on the Hill staff about the variety of services the Hub provides to local farmers and consumers, including value-added food processing, packaging, distribution and marketing.

Nathan Henderson and his pig friends greeted the bikers where Henderson discussed field rotation and the diet associated with the creatures swarming behind him. According to Henderson, the COVID pandemic has been a boon to business as he now ships around 400 boxes of his products a year.

Adam Hainer’s Juniper Hill Farm produces about half a million pounds of food a year. Its year-round greenhouses provide a “love blanket,” as in winter they serve as huge refrigerators. A specialty in the north of the country are sweet potatoes which he cures and stores for 50,000 pounds in sheds that used to cure tobacco in the south.

Nestled between the Sprig and Whipple Mountains, Echo Farm was originally a diverse farm and dairy operation, and takes its name from the distant sounds of farm life. Echo Farms’ niche is catering at major events. Located next to Echo’s farm stand is a working phone booth, which several bikers found amusing.

RICH AGRICULTURAL HISTORY

According to Doug Haney of Bike Adirondacks, “This was one of the most enjoyable events I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. The course and the fall foliage were beautiful, but what makes this event special is its ability to tell the rich agricultural history of the Lake Champlain Valley while experiencing the landscape by bike. You can see, feel and absorb so much more when you move on your own on two wheels.

Essex Town Supervisor Ken Hughes, who has also ridden, said “The attendance at Bike the Barns has been great. Not only were riders able to bask in the beauty of the magnificent fall foliage on our bucolic country roads in the greater Reber and Essex area, but they were treated to three of our many incredible farms that work hard to bring farm-fresh food to tables near and far. My thanks to all the organizers and participants for making Essex the destination for this year’s event. We welcome everyone to Essex where there is always something interesting and fun to do just around the corner.

ANCA SUPPORT

ANCA works with northern farmers, small business owners, regional institutions and nonprofit partners on projects that strengthen farms and food businesses and increase access to local foods. Recent efforts include ANCA’s organizational support for the High Peaks Farmers Market in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid and a grant program that has helped local food businesses increase production and reduce food insecurity during the economic shutdown of the COVID-19.

This year, Bike the Barns raised over $10,000 for ANCA’s food systems work. Some of the categories the organization works with include: access to flexible funding from governments and businesses; technical assistance connecting food producers with free or low-cost assistance to build stability and planning; market support and farm-to-table supply chains.

For more information, contact the ANCA at [email protected] or 518-891-6200. You can contact BikeADK at [email protected] or 518-524-4674.

Email to Alvin Reiner

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