The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers is recruiting cyclists and pledges for its 10th annual Ride to Farm fundraiser on Saturday, June 1, to support the next generation of Wisconsin farmers.
Cyclists will begin in Birch Lake Park in Barneveld, ride through the Driftless Region to Spring Green for lunch at Culver's and then circle back to Barneveld, enjoying rest stops on farms along the way. Ben Brancel, Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, will send off the riders at 8:30 a.m.
Participants can choose one of two full-day rides - a 55-mile course with 2,130 feet in elevation rise or a 52-mile ride with 1,580 feet in rise.
Or they can opt for a half-day, one-way ride, either from Barneveld to Spring Green in the morning or from Spring Green to Barneveld in the afternoon - but will need to arrange for their own ride back to their starting point.
Ride to Farm raises funds to support the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers (WSBDF). The school provides aspiring farmers with classroom instruction and on-farm internships, business planning and mentoring opportunities, with an emphasis on managed grazing.
"Over the past 10 years Ride to Farm has become our signature event to raise funds for scholarships and general program activities, and also to raise awareness about the importance of supporting our future farmers," says WSBDF director Dick Cates. "We're extremely grateful to all of the people who have ridden with us or pledged support over the past decade."
Supporters can make pledges for individual riders and teams (or make general contributions) at www.ridetofarm.dojiggy.com.
Riders can go to the same site to sign up to ride, solicit donors and track pledges.
Participants are welcome to ride as individuals or in teams, but each rider must raise at least $75. Teams that collect the highest pledge amounts will be awarded traveling trophies.
Prizes for top individual fundraisers include a voucher for 52 free Organic Valley products in a year, two tickets to American Players Theater and a Ride to Farm jersey.
The ride includes rest breaks on two farms, where participants can sample locally produced cheese, milk and other treats provided by farm families and the River Valley FFA.
The morning stop is north of Dodgeville at Grass Dairy, the farm of the Gingrich and Patenaude families and home of Uplands Cheese, where several WSBDF graduates have served as interns and started their farming career.
In the afternoon, riders will stop south of Spring Green at the Cates Family Farm, owned and operated by Dick and Kim Cates. The ride will culminate at Birch Lake Park with beverages and an award ceremony at 3 p.m. followed by a potluck picnic.
WSBDF serves students throughout Wisconsin. Many students attend class on the UW-Madison campus, but others participate from classrooms around the state through a mix of local instruction and video links to the Madison classroom.
The program is a partnership between the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and the Farm and Industry Short Course, both programs of the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
Instructors include UW-Madison faculty, graduates of the program, mentor farmers, farm lenders and other agribusiness professionals. For more information, visit www.cias.wisc.edu/dairysch.html.
WSBDF thanks its Ride to Farm sponsors: Culver's for coupons and promotional development; Organic Valley for fresh cheese and milk from their farms; Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board for ride t-shirts; and Budget Bicycles for additional prizes; also Badgerland Financial, American Transmission Co., Faith Technologies, Family Dairies USA, We Energies, Wisconsin Cattlemen's Association, and the Wisconsin Farmers Union for their continued generous support of the WSBDF and Ride to Farm.