It was without a doubt a beautiful August day for a bicycle ride. And fresh vegetables. And fresh fruit. And fresh dairy. And fresh, local musical sounds.
CT Folk's third annual Tour des Farms — a 25-mile leisure bike ride to local farms, gardens, and other agricultural treasures in Connecticut — rolled the hills and valleys of Amity earlier today.
Throughout this morning and early afternoon the tour made stops at and in Orange, and Savino Vineyards in Woodbridge, as well as the Ansonia Nature Center.
Alice-Anne Harwood, the CT Folk member organizing this year's ride, told Patch that more than 100 people, of all ages, participated in today's tour.
"We were out last night putting up signs for the tour route, and the rain was pouring down on us, and we were worried about the weather," Harwood said. "But it ended up being just gorgeous outside today... it really went well."
With most participants looking to travel light, tour organizers had support staff and volunteers ready to carry — and refrigerate — any produce purchased along the way until the end of the ride.
Susan Lukianov, who runs the tasting bar as Savino Vineyards, said that feature of the tour came in handy during the riders' stop at the winery.
"A bunch of riders just came on in at about 10:15 a.m. And they had some tastings," Lukianov said, adding that several of the riders also bought bottles of wine. So, the support staff came in handy.
"It was packed in here," she said of the tasting bar.
Jason Morrill, president of the board of directors for Massaro Farm, said the Woodbridge farm, which is just down the road from the vineyard, was also packed with riders and other visitors through much of the late morning and early afternoon.
"From our perspective, the Tour des Farms was a huge success," he said.
Morrill added that many of the riders were unaware the loca Woodbridge farm even existed. And so, volunteers and board members decided to give several quick impromptu information sessions about the farm.
"So many people were excited to be here at the farm," he said. "And they had such an interest in the farm, we gave them quick tours."
Massaro organized a full slate of events to coincide with the bike tour, a day-long festival called "Pizza, Pickles and Pedals." Massarao volunteers grilled pizza topped with fresh vegetables from the farm. And Woodbridge-based New England Brewing Co. was on site offering tastings of their fresh and locally brewed beer.
In addition, throughout the day at Massaro workshops were offered, including talks on beekeeping, chicken basics, invasive species and a pickling demonstration.
And to top off a day of celebrating all things local, at each stop along the route, riders and non-riders alike were entertained by live performances by musicians from throughout the state.
The day ended at about 2 p.m. at Treat Farm in Orange. The farm, which has been in active operation for more than four generations, hosted an outdoor concert that featured each of the musicians who performed at the various stops along today's tour.
Harwood said CT Folk looks to continue building on the success and continued growth of the tour next year — and beyond.
"It's great to be part of an event that doesn't just promote (Connecticut's) cultural economy, but also one that promotes its agricultural econony," she said. "And every year, we're going to find something new to do."
Harwood added that each tour has been held in a different region with a different route, a practice they plan to continue.
"Today, everyone had a good tour," she said.
All proceeds from the Tour des Farms will go to benefit the educational programs of the nonprofit organization CT Folk.