Our new and improved site (with the same content as this one, AND MORE! is www.The SharingGardens.blogspot.com/

Friday, October 7, 2011

Give Till It Feels Good! - Farm to Farm Century Ride

On September 17th of this year, the Sharing Gardens of Alpine and Monroe co-hosted the first annual 'Farm-to-Farm' Century Ride, a 100 mile bicycle tour that visited some of our area's outstanding examples of sustainably operated farms. This ride was the 'brainchild' of Jennifer Hughes of Eugene, an avid cyclist who wanted to create a different kind of Century Ride and give it's participants a greater purpose for participating. When she found the Sharing Gardens online, she approached us about hosting the event and proposed that a significant portion of the proceeds go toward our non-profit, grass-roots, all volunteer and community-supported effort to feed people in need. We felt that this was a perfect opportunity to bring various community members and groups together to help raise awareness of the need for this type of food assistance program, as well as bring in some much needed funds to keep it strong. We gladly accepted and began the process of planning out what, and how much we needed to grow. Since we had agreed to cater the event, we geared our menu so that the ingredients we would be using would be ready when we needed them, with an all vegetarian selection of local, and farm-fresh items.

The Ride was a way to involve many members of our community. Here are members of Christy Warden's 4-H group, husking corn.
When Llyn and I embraced this project, it was with the understanding that it would be in addition to continuing our regular schedule with our wonderful volunteers, and with a commitment to expand our production. Last year our surplus went primarily to the Monroe Food Bank. This year we have added the South Benton Nutrition Program, and the Harrisburg Gleaners. Even though the growing season got off to a slow start, once the harvest began, the amounts continued to increase in leaps and bounds but, unlike last year, we had people to call upon to take our excess so that we weren't 'left holding the bag' at the end of the Food Bank's day. Whew!!!! And even though the Ride took place on the 17th of September, we've been so busy keeping up with the onslaught of produce coming ripe that we haven't really had the time to digest what happened and let you all know how things went.

A cyclist enjoys a scoop of Lochmead vanilla ice-cream donated for the ride.
Well, let me tell you, it was a HUGE success and more fun than we've had in a long time. There were very few snags that occurred during either the planning stages or on the actual day of the event. We owe much of our success to the amazing people who stepped forward in total willingness to do whatever was needed, with a real spirit of giving and cooperation that made our hearts feel so warm and grateful. To all of you who were there to help, we want to thank you all so much. Gratitude and Stories from the Ride

Just to recap what took place, here's a little sketch of the day's highlights:

People began arriving at about 6:30 AM and went to the Monroe High's parking lot where they were signed in and then directed to the Monroe Legion Hall for a delicious breakfast and fresh Cafe Maam coffee before heading out on their 100 mile trek through some of our area's most beautiful countryside. Along the way they stopped at four local farms and were treated to some very tasty and unique delicacies that are produced right here in our area by people who care about sustainable farming practices and increasing awareness of our local food web. Riders faced some pretty strong head winds along the route and were delayed in returning to the Monroe Garden, but they started to roll in around 3:00 and were greeted by some of the area's finest acoustic musicians playing a mix of Country, Blues, and Oregon-style Bluegrass. 

Pickin' and a-grinnin' - 'When Picks Fly' brought fun and a festive ambiance to the event.
On the menu for these hearty souls was a deluxe potato salad, a steaming hot serving of 'made-from-scratch' Boston-style baked beans, all the fresh sweet corn a body could eat, along with a garden fresh green salad with hummus-stuffed Roma-tomatoes, and if that wasn't enough, there were cookies and vanilla ice cream to put everyone's sweet tooth to rest. It was quite the scene! People kept coming up to us and saying things like,”I can't wait to sign up for next year's ride!” and, “This is the best ride I've ever been on!” Counting riders (79), volunteers (42) musicians and misc., we fed over 130 people that day.
There's so much more I'd like to say and so many people we'd like to personally thank that we've dedicated a whole page on our website just for that. (Link to page) For now it's time to come back to the tasks still facing us as we wind down this season in anticipation of  how next year will unfold. We believe that projects such as the Sharing Gardens are on the cutting edge, addressing the challenges that are inherent in these new and difficult economic and environmental times. All of us are having to make new choices and this isn't always easy. But we believe that these choices will have the wonderful side-effect of bringing us all closer as members of a human family and community. I believe that we are at the edge of beginning to rediscover the things that are truly important in life, and that they aren't really 'things' at all, but rather the love that we have for one another that blooms in deeds of selfless giving and compassion. After all, 'THERE'S NO COMPETITION ON THE GIVING SIDE OF LIFE.' For a list of specific people and organizations who helped make this event so successful, and some other follow-up stories, go to www.AlpineGarden.blogspot.com and click on the link in the upper right-hand-corner that says Farm to Farm Century Ride – Gratitude and Stories.

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