CISA’s first Pedal to Pasture event offers ‘a unique way to learn about farms’

By SAM FERLAND

For the Gazette

Published: 05-30-2024 3:55 PM

HATFIELD — Bicyclists will be able to savor the local scenery while learning about the struggles farmers in the Connecticut River Valley are facing as they pedal a flat 12-mile loop on a guided tour of three different farms.

This is the first year that South Deerfield-based Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) will be hosting the Pedal to Pasture event on Sunday, from 9 a.m. to noon, with all proceeds from entry fees going to CISA to support its mission to bolster the western Massachusetts food system.

“The event is aimed at giving people a unique way to learn about farms,” said CISA’s Development Director Wendy Ferris. “By bike it’s such a great pace for doing that because you’re able to observe so much more than when you’re driving.”

Cyclists of all levels are welcome, with check-in between 8:15 and 8:30 a.m., followed by a bike safety check and route overview with event guides. The tour starts at Prospect Meadow Farm at 103A Prospect St. in Hatfield, which also serves as the end location. From there, participants will journey to Bardwell Farm, also in Hatfield, and Golonka Farm in Whately, stopping for 30 minutes at each of the vegetable farms to hear educational stories about the benefits and challenges of farming in the region.

“I think farmers are all struggling with challenges related to a changing climate,” Ferris explained. “I think that has made it really challenging for folks to know how each season will unfold. Nothing has been very predictable.”

The event, Ferris said, aligns well with CISA’s mission to support local farms while also engaging the community in creative ways.

“This is the latest way we are going to try something new,” Ferris said.

Cyclists must bring their own bikes, with e-bikes and pedal-assist bikes welcome. The event will take place rain or shine unless riding conditions are unsafe, in which case registration fees will be reserved for next year’s tour.

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Advance registration is recommended as limited space is available. The tour costs between $75 and $150 for adults based on a sliding scale, and $40 for teens between the ages of 16 and 18. Sandwiches will be provided for lunch by Prospect Meadow Farm and Crooked Stick Pops will provide popsicles after the ride.

For more information and to register, visit buylocalfood.org/event/cisas-farm-bike-tour-pedal-to-pasture.