Conservation Conversations column: Tour de Farms gets up close and personal with area’s agriculture
Have you ever been biking and ridden past a farm or ranch? And your next thought was, “what are they doing or why are they doing that?”
Tour de Farms is a fun family event sponsored for the past five years by Bookcliff, Mount Sopris and South Side Conservation Districts. Unlike the Tour de France, this ride averages 25 miles through one of our beautiful local river valleys — Colorado, Roaring Fork and Crystal.
These rides are enjoyable for almost everyone. Once in a while, even one of the farmers or ranchers joins in on a bike.
The location and stops change each year, but always highlight our rich agricultural community. Participants can learn about a large cattle or hay operation, a small organic garden, an orchard, a vineyard, hoop house production, greenhouses, various types of irrigation, rotational grazing, permaculture — all from the owners themselves.
During this event, you truly are able to ask, “what are you doing out standing in your field?” Are you watching the grass grow, the water run, the cows napping, the fruit ripening, or just scratching your head? Maybe they’re standing there just because the sun is shining and the mountains are beautiful.
Members of our local agricultural community often say that we have the best job in the world. Look at our office — mountains, rivers, green fields, blue sky and friendly neighbors to call on for help.
We all might agree that, when there are a few days when one is wet and cold from rain or snow, that we question our job. But we also realize that rain and snow help keep the fields and trees green and keep veggies and fruit ripening.
Many of our local agricultural community members have shared their operation with school groups, interested organizations, and those who just stop by.
Tour de Farms is a two-wheeled educational experience enjoyed by young kids, their parents, their grandparents, or anyone who wants to enjoy a bike ride while learning a bit about local agriculture. The agricultural community is so proud of what they do, that once you get them talking, your knowledge of raising plants and/or animals expands rapidly.
The Tour de Farms ride concludes with a burger and beer (for those of the appropriate age) or soda. A registration fee of $25 includes the ride, a T-shirt, a beverage glass filled with age-appropriate beverage, a burger (beef or veggie) and, for those who may need it, sag wagon support.
You do need to provide your own bike; there’s a special prize for those with a John Deere bicycle. What a deal — a scenic ride, a learning opportunity, food and great company.
This year’s Tour de Farms sold out quickly, but watch for ads next summer for Tour de Farms 2020. It will be fun, educational and filled with scenery.
Other family events sponsored by your local conservation districts include the Ag Expo coming up Saturday, Feb. 1. For more information about programs and events your local conservation districts offer, please visit our website: http://www.mountsopriscd.org/.
Sandy Jackson is a District Supervisor on the Mount Sopris Conservation District Board and a member of your local agricultural community.
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