AUGUSTA, NJ – Nearly 400 people, including New Jersey’s Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, gathered at the Sussex County Fair Grounds Sunday for the third annual Tour de Farm bike ride.
Under bright blue skies, the morning began with breakfast prepared by Chef Andre. Sparta’s Natalie Torres, the 8-year-old winner of the Sussex Idol talent contest, stood up on a folding chair so she could be seen as she sang the National Anthem.
At the urging of organizer Mitch Morrison, Guadagno addressed the crowd, “There are over 9,000 farms in New Jersey. That’s why we’re the Garden State.” She spoke of supporting agri-business and had ridden in a Tour de Farm last weekend as well.
“Be safe,” she continued. “Never ride without a helmet.” Guadagno explained she “wouldn’t be here if not for [her] helmet,” after a bike accident with a car left her with a broken wrist and elbow. She and her husband often ride “out to the Hook” at the Jersey Shore.
Ben Del Coro, co-founder and manager of the Sparta Farmets Market and National Sales Manager for Fossil Farms, spoke to the crowd before they began the ride. “The ride will take you through the most beautiful farm land in the country. Our farmers are the only people I know who work hard 365 days a year just hoping to break even.”
Riders had the option of a 75-mile Extreme Tour, 34.4-mile Not-So-Extreme Tour and a 15-mile Weekend Warrior Tour. Each of the rides had stops at farms along the way. The farmers had tastings, and goods to be purchased.
The participating Sussex county farms were:
- Hillcrest Farm,
- Glenmalure Farm
- Everlasting Farm,
- Churutabis Farm,
- Willowbrook Farm,
- Sunset View Farm,
- Hidden Pastures Farm,
- Vernon Valley Farm,
- Ventimiglia Vineyards,
- Ideal Farms
Following the ride there was a Farm to Fork Celebration at the Vernon Valley Farm. This meal was also created by Andre using locally sourced foods.
Leaving the fairground after the ride, heading down to the Jersey Shore, Guadagno said, "I'm leaving God's Country to go to another of God's Country."