Does the thought of getting on your bicycle and biking through beautiful farm country to meet the farmers, taste their food, and tour the farms appeal to you? If so, you should consider hopping on the bike for one or both of the upcoming Tour de Farm NJ events on September 6th and September 19th (2015).
I recently went on the first of three Tour de Farm NJ trips, which went through Hunterdon County, NJ. It was a picture-perfect day - sunshine and warm. The event attracted a great group of people and it was a lot of fun (and challenging).
Many people who aren't familiar with NJ are surprised when they visit areas like this. The state gets a rep for being industrial and filled with nothing but urban sprawl, but NJ is really beautiful. I promise! There's so much to do and see in this state, particularly through farming areas. This IS the Garden State, after all!
We started out at the South Hunterdon Regional High School in Lambertville, NJ on Sunday morning. They had a great breakfast waiting for us to get fueled up and ready to go. The nice thing about this event is that you can choose from several courses, depending on your skills and what you want to see. You could choose from a 20 mile, 35 mile (which was more like 38 because of some extra accidental detours we took) and an 80+ mile ride. We did the 35 mile route and visited 5 different farms.
I saw alpacas, new farm animals that had been born that morning, tasted great cheeses and other farm goodies, met the farmers, got tours and learned about their farming practices. As one friend described it, this event was MADE FOR ME.
When you go to each farm, they have a nice array of prepared tastings for you and if you like something and want to order it, you can. They'll arrange to bring it back to the finish line for you to take home with you. There was also a farm to fork dinner after the ride at The Farm Cooking School in Stockton, NJ, which we didn't do. We knew we would have felt the day was full after biking, so we didn't sign up. It looked like it was a great time though, so it's something to consider if you're planning to go to subsequent rides. Here's a link to the Tour de Farm NJ Facebook album, which captures the day nicely. Also see a few more pix and the recorded route below.
There were many, many signs like this along the way - in protest of the PennEast Pipeline being proposed in the area. Learn more here.
Know before you go:
- Take lots of water with you and refill your bottles or your camelbak along the way at the farms. They were generous in letting people refill their water, which was nice.
- Take cash - most of the farms don't take credit cards.
- Put the telephone number you'll get in the confirmation/reminder emails into your cell phone. If you need assistance, you can call the number and they'll come get you or assist as needed.
- Bring a portable charger for your phone if you think you'll run out of juice.
- Bring a cooler in your car for taking farm goods home with you - put some ice/ice pack in there to keep them cool if it's a long ride home.
I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).
I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)
This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.
In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself.
With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix DMC-ZS15 compact camera.)
I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.
Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!