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Tour de Farms continues exponential growth - INTERVIEWS

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

The partnership began informally in 2009, the inaugural year of Buffalo’s Tour de Farms.

The Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) was then the only official host of the bike jaunt to Oles’ Farm in Alden, which brought together Buffalo’s ‘green’ devotees in celebration of environmental stewardship, healthy living and sustainability.

GO Bike Buffalo founder Justin Booth volunteered to help organize and lead the 40-mile ride—after all, MAP’s mission fit seamlessly with his own efforts toward sustainable transportation. 

Four years later, MAP’s grassroots movement has turned into a full-fledged gathering—now including GO Bike Buffalo as an official partner that splits proceeds—to unite 350 riders on a trip from Buffalo State’s M Lot to Ole’s Farm at 2112 County Line Rd., Alden.

Registration for Tour de Farms begins at 7 a.m. Saturday, and the first wave of bikes will depart at 9 a.m. The next stages of cyclists will begin 10 to 15 minutes after.

For the time being, there’s no room left for cyclists to register, but you can still attend the local harvest celebration at Oles Farm at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here.

We’ll let you know if GO Bike Buffalo can accept more registrations for the biking portion and the earlier stops of the tour, but you can also check the Twitter account @GOBuffalo for updates.

Don’t fret about the distance, the organizers say, as the stops and the relaxed pace make the journey quite achievable.

“One of my favorite parts about the event is that almost all of the riders are recreational—they may ride their bikes to the store or work—but the majority haven’t ridden 30 miles before,” GO Bike Buffalo events coordinator Henry Raess explained. “We get a lot of phone calls asking, ‘Do we have to be in great shape to do this?’, but we reassure them that the first half of the ride is casual and the second-half pace is up to the rider.

“At the end of the ride, a lot of [participants] say, ‘That wasn’t so bad.’”

Here’s the list of scheduled stops (in order) on the 35-mile bike ride:

**Massachusetts Avenue Project, 389 Massachusetts Ave., Buffalo
**Trinity Tupper Community Garden (Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo), 92 Trinity Place, Buffalo
**Pelion Community Garden at City Honors High School, 210 Best St., Buffalo
**Wilson Street Urban Farm, 360 Wilson St., Buffalo
**Clinton Bailey Farmers Market, 1443 Clinton St., Buffalo
**Bippert’s Farms, 5240 Clinton St., Elma
**Oles Farm, 2112 County Line Rd., Alden

The event’s aims haven’t changed—and there’s really no reason for them to.

“We want Buffalo to continue to be more bike-friendly,” said Raess, “and Tour de Farms gets people on bikes together. It’s a great visual when hundreds of bicyclists are together, a great attention grabber.”

Raess then detailed Tour de Farms’ rapid growth, explaining that the rise from 208 riders in 2012 to a capped 350 in 2013 is strong evidence of progress, and that the total number of participants has almost doubled in each of the event’s four previous years.

For those seeking further information into GO Bike Buffalo’s plans, Raess pointed to the organization’s upcoming Biketoberfest—which is roughly a month away. Here’s Buffalo Rising’s glance at last year’s.

Complementing the emphasis on green transportation is the event’s central mission, which remains unchanged since 2009. The message will be clearly relayed on the stop at MAP early in the trip.

“We’ll talk about our hopes for urban agriculture and how they pertain to Buffalo,” explained MAP executive director Diane Picard. “We want to continue growing the local economy and the local food system.”

While official details have yet to be announced, the Massachusetts Avenue Project has sketched plans for a 10th anniversary celebration of their Growing Green Program—tentatively slated for late November.

Best of luck to the ‘green’-devoted cyclists who’ll trek 35 miles on Saturday in order to celebrate with a number of local farmers.

TAGGED: bicycles, bippert's farms, diane picard, go bike buffalo, henry raess, map, massachusetts avenue project, oles family farm, sustainability, tour de farms

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