FARMINGTON — This October, cyclists will be able to take a recreational bike tour through farmland in Franklin County to meet the producers, buy farm products and then head back to Farmington for an end-of-the day celebration with local foods and a concert.

The first “Tour de Farmington” will be Sunday, Oct. 10. Organizers are asking for anyone interested in helping launch the event to attend an informational meeting from 6:30 at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 18, in the Western Mountains Alliance office at 109 Church St. in Farmington.

Volunteers will be needed to drive support vehicles along the route, staff rest stops and set up the evening entertainment and food.

Refreshments will be provided by Chuck Snell, owner of the former Big Mouth Burritos in West Farmington. The concert will be performed by the bluegrass band, the Sandy River Ramblers, said event co-organizer Jeremy Smith.

Cyclists will be able to choose one of three different length routes that will range from 15 to 75 miles. At the farms, they can relax, look in greenhouses and barns, buy products and have them transported in vans back to the finish line in Farmington, he said.

“People will be able to enjoy the healthy pursuit of cycling in a large group while learning about the agricultural aspects that make the greater Farmington area unique,” Smith wrote on his blog: http://tourdefarmington.wordpress.com

To date, participating farms are Marble Family Farm, Porter Hill Farm, Robin’s Flower Pot and Sandy River Farm in Farmington; Whitehill Farm, Lone Antler Farm and Morrison Hill Orchard in Wilton; Longfellow Creamery/Second Chance Farm, Island Farm and Votervale Farm in Avon; and Triple D Farms in New Sharon.

“I think there will be good interest in this and we hope to have at least 40 cyclists our first year,” Smith said in an interview.

This summer, Smith, co-organizer Jean-Luc Theriault and others have been mapping the various routes by bike to gauge difficulty and distance. A map and informational booklet describing each farm will be available prior to the ride.

The course will pass through Temple, East Wilton, Chesterville, Farmington Falls, New Sharon, Industry, Farmington, New Vineyard, Strong, Avon and Phillips.

The tour is the brainchild of several Franklin County residents, including Smith, who was also involved in 350day.org last October. That daylong Farmington event was part of an international movement aimed at raising awareness of energy issues, climate change, food sustainability, and conservation of natural resources.

Smith and others are also involved in Pedal Powered Tuesdays, where cyclists meet to ride together in and around Farmington on Tuesday evenings.

“We started talking about it and thought it would be cool to merge the two,” Smith said.

He said the registration fee will include a free lunch of local foods, snacks during the day, as well as refreshments and a bluegrass concert in Meetinghouse Park.

Riders will also be directed to participating restaurants or to the Sandy River Farm’s second annual “Corn Maize” — a meandering maze through a growing cornfield. The project is affiliated with Western Mountains Alliance, a local community development organization that supports sustainability and agriculture projects in western and central Maine.

For information, contact Smith at [email protected] or Western Mountains Alliance at 778-3885.


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