SPARTA, NJ – The Sparta Farmers Market is seven years old and going strong. Sparta resident Mitch Morrison has been the driving force behind the market that was created, in response to the demand for fresher, tastier, healthier and more nutritious food.
"They want to know how their food is produced where it is produced and who is producing it," Morrison said. "They are demanding a trusted, transparent and locally sourced food system.”
Now in it's fifth year, the Tour de Farm New Jersey was a natural extension of the Farmers' Market. It is actually two different bike rides through bucolic rolling hills of Sussex and Warren Counties with stops at participating farms along the way.
“Northern New Jersey has seen an explosion of interest in supporting our local farmers,” Morrison said.
The first year of the tour drew more than 1,300 participants from all over the metropolitan New Jersey and New York region, according to Morrison.
The Tour de Farm Sussex County rolls out from the Sussex County Fair Grounds in Augusta on Sunday, September 3 with three different route options:
- Week end Warrior 13.7 miles,
- Not so Extreme 25.6 miles,
- Extreme Tour 64.6 miles
The riders can go at their own pace with planned stops for tastings at participating farms along the way. Riders will get a breakfast, locally sourced of course, before starting out. The first 400 registrants will get a Tour de Farm t-shirt. Energy bar, snacks and water will be provided along the marked route. Bathrooms will be available at the planned stops. There will be free parking at the fairgrounds. A SAG wagon will be on call for support.
Ten Sussex County farms are participating this year: Cerbo’s Nursery, NJ Farm at Glenwood Mountain, Country Heritage Farm, Ventimiglia Vineyards, Hidden Pastures Farm, Willow Brook Farm, Everlasting Garden, Daisy Fields Farm, Vernon Valley Farm, Churutabis Farm.
Musician Tommy Gardner will be performing 7 to 10 a.m. during breakfast.
Riders are invited to also register Farm to Fork Luncheon after the tour hosted at the fairgrounds by Hayek’s Market running from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. An additional dinning opportunity is available at 3 p.m. at the Meal for Amiel farm dinner at Roaming Acres Farm.
Registration is ongoing with a price increase on August 15 and again on the day of the ride, September 3. Veterans and their families can ride for free.
A second ride, Tour de Farm Warren County is scheduled for Saturday, September 23.
“Our customers want to know exactly what they are ingesting into their bodies. They require to know the who, what, where, when, why and how their food is produced.”
At its inception the Sparta Farmers' Market began with six vendors on the plaza in front of Sparta town hall. They severed a few hundred customers. Now a year-round market, 30 local farmers and vendors offer their produce and products to an average of 800 customers each week.
In the summer the market is held on Saturdays in the parking lot behind Sparta Health and Wellness Center on Sparta Avenue. In the winter the market moves indoors to the cafeteria at Sparta Middle School on most Saturdays.
The Tour de Farm NJ Facebook page has additional photos and information about the event.
Editor's note: Click on the highlighted words to links for additional information.