By Tara Kelly
It was a typical weekend in our house or so the kids thought. They knew we had a plan for Sunday morning, that it had something to do with RAFFL, and that I had “volunteered” them for something I promised would be fun. Ah… the young, so willing to help out in the name of fun.
We loaded up the car around 7AM and started driving toward Rochester, VT. We were heading for Mom and Pop’s Maple Syrup and then Riverside Farm in Pittsfield, two stops along the Farm to Fork Fondo bicycle route. For the next several hours we joined other volunteers (including Kerry who wore a cow costume!) as we wore red pepper costumes, cheered on bicyclists, handed out water and treats, and – thankfully -- had a ton of fun!
The motto of the Farm to Fork Fondo is “happy tummies ride local.” This event, organized by Wrenegade Sports, drew a deliberate connection between road cyclists and the terrain through which they travel. The Farm to Fork Fondo website says, “Here at Wrenegade Sports, we think there's no better way to experience pastoral landscapes, diverse local agriculture and farm-to-fork freshness than from the seat of your favorite bicycle.”
Cyclists, of course, are not alone in their love of Vermont’s rolling hills and farmlands. Many Vermonters and visitors to Vermont deeply value the rural landscape of our state characterized by farm fields, forests, and the many sights and sounds that go along with it.
If you’ve always wanted to get a deeper, behind-the-scenes look at Vermont’s farms, you are in for a treat. Farmers across Vermont will throw open their barn doors and garden gates to welcome the public during Vermont’s first Open Farm Week from Monday, August 3 – Sunday, August 9, 2015.
Over 100 farms are participating throughout the state, many of which are not usually open to the public. Open Farm Week offers Vermonters and visitors alike educational opportunities to learn more about local food origins, authentic agritourism experiences, and the chance to build relationships with local farmers.
Activities vary by the farm but may include:
- Farm tours
- Live music and farm dinners
- Meet the farm animals
- Try out farm chores, like milking a cow, harvesting vegetables, and/or collecting eggs
- Taste farm fresh food
- Scavenger hunts, hayrides, and more!
Many events are free. Costs vary depending on what activities are offered. All participating farms, geographic locations, and offerings are at www.DigInVT.com.
So next week, when I tell my kids we are heading out to “do something fun,” you can bet that some of the farms participating in Open Farm Week will be on the list of things we do. And, this time, I won’t be cajoling my kids to wear the red pepper costumes. We’ll just be enjoying the best of what Vermont has to offer (Oh, yeah, and they’ll probably learn something too. But, don’t mention that to them if you see us out there. Let’s keep that to ourselves.)
Tara Kelly is the Executive Director of Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL). She loves local farms, food, and her kids – even if she sometimes tricks them into volunteering and educational experiences.