GABRIELS — Six area farmers will share their experiences at this year’s Bike the Barns, an annual farm-by-bike event hosted by the Adirondack North Country Association.

The one-day recreational cycling tour begins and ends at Tucker Farms in Gabriels and offers four route options to suit riders’ preferences.

The event will take place on Sunday, Sept. 29.

EXPERIENCE TO GAIN

“We love being part of this eclectic farming community. We share ideas and learn from each other,” said Aaron Caiazza, who owns and operates Kate Mountain Farm in Vermontville.

“Whether it’s new farmers or folks who have been doing this work for generations, there is always new knowledge and experience to gain about farming and marketing in the area. We’re excited to be part of this year’s Bike the Barns and to be sharing our story and our food with people.”

Caiazza raises Mangalitsa “wooly” pigs, a curly haired breed preferred for its hardiness, exceptional meat quality and curing properties, as well as Berkshire pigs, poultry, vegetables and forest products.

SIX FARMS

Farm tours at six area farms will give Bike the Barns participants the opportunity to learn about the region’s agricultural history, its diversity of farms and the local food movement.

In addition to Kate Mountain Farm, participating farms include Dandelion Farms in Saranac Lake; Iron Rooster Farm and Tucker Farms in Gabriels; and Sanctuary Farm and Sunwarm Gardens in Vermontville.

The Tucker family has been growing potatos in Gabriels for more than 150 years. High elevations, rocky soils, frigid winters and a short growing season are just a few of the challenges area farmers face year after year.

“Farming here can be difficult. But also rewarding,” Tom Tucker said.

“We enjoy allowing the public on our farm, showing them around and explaining what farming is all about.”

ENTIRELY DIFFERENT

The region has an incredible diversity of agriculture, and each and every farm is a unique expression of landscape, history, climate and farmer personality, says Josh Bakelaar, ANCA’s Local Economies and Agriculture Program Director.

“We’re excited to offer riders an entirely different experience this year, ranging from large-scale wholesale potato production to high-tech intensive year-round indoor hydroponic growing,” Bakelaar said.

The 2019 Bike the Barns offers four route options — named Seed, Sprout, Veggie and Harvest — with approximate distances of 10, 30, 40 and 70 miles respectively.

Riders along Sprout, Veggie and Harvest routes will be served a local food lunch. Locally produced snacks will also be provided.

FINISH CELEBRATION

Event participants will end the day with a finish line celebration featuring live music by Green Grass Co., a Saranac Lake-based bluegrass band, a local food meal and locally brewed beverages.

Proceeds from Bike the Barns go to ANCA’s FarmShare Fund to help support a sustainable and equitable regional food system.

Goals of the fund include building connections between farms and consumers by addressing food security; supporting ANCA’s existing local food initiatives like farm to school, food hub development and agritourism projects; and supporting local food efforts of regional partners.

REGISTRATION DETAILS

In two rounds of grant awards in 2018 and 2019, the FarmShare Fund’s mini grant program has supported 10 projects that are increasing local food access for low-income households in the region.

Registration for medium and long routes for the Sept. 29 event is $60 and includes an event t-shirt, farm tours and a local-food lunch and dinner. Registration for the 10-mile “Seed” family ride is $40 and includes farm tours and dinner.

T-shirts for Seed Route riders can be purchased separately.

For more information about Bike the Barns and the FarmShare Fund or to register for the event, visit the event webpage at www.adirondack.org/bikethebarns.