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Support the Second Annual Ride To Farm: A bicycle ride for the next generation of Wisconsin farmers

A bicycle ride to raise awareness about the crucial need to help Wisconsin”s next generation of dairy farmers get started will take place Friday, June 24 to Monday, June 27. The second annual Ride to Farm will begin just east of Eau Claire and finish at the opening of the annual Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators Conference, Marriott Madison West Hotel, Middleton, on Monday morning. A gala fund-raising event, “Graze On! For Local Farms, Local Foods,” featuring local artisan cheeses, micro-brewed beer, and hors d”oeuvres by Madison celebrity chefs, will take place Sunday evening at the Capital Brewery, Middleton.
The ride and the benefit will raise funds to support the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy Farmers, a program of the UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and the Farm and Industry Short Course, whose mission is to help new farmers get started.
Wisconsin high school agriculture/FFA instructors Brad Sirianni of Independence High School and Merle Richter of Bloomer High School originated the idea for the first ride a year ago. This June up to a dozen cyclists may partake in the ride, including last year”s veterans, Sirianni, Richter and WSBDF director Richard Cates.
“I am extremely fortunate to be able to take part in such an important effort to help raise awareness of the issues that the school is set up to tackle, and to show support for our bright and motivated next generation of farmers,” Cates says. The School is now in its eleventh year of helping aspiring farmers to get started.
“The ride adds momentum and additional meaning to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board”s third-year endorsement of America”s Dairyland women”s cycling team, which promotes Wisconsin”s dairy industry, by focusing on the industry need to help beginning farmers to succeed,” Cates points out. Several members of the celebrity America”s Dairyland women”s cycling team are scheduled to accompany the ride for the last leg into Madison on Sunday.
Riders will stop at several start-up farms and Culver”s restaurants along the 225-mile route through the Wisconsin countryside between Eau Claire and Madison. (See route and stop details in the sidebar, attached). Although the number of riders will be limited to about 12, everyone is encouraged to attend one or more of the route stops along the way. Interested public will be treated to complimentary organic milk, locally produced by Organic Valley Family of Farms, LaFarge, and turtle sundaes from Culver”s restaurants. Graduate- and mentor- farmers from the WSBDF, as well as local media will be in attendance at each stop. Stay tuned to your local radio and newspapers for ride details and/or changes.
Business sponsors of the event include Culver”s restaurants (meals for cyclists and turtle sundaes for supporting public), Kwik Trip (T-shirts), Organic Valley Family of Farms (organic milk for riders and supporting public), and Powertex Sportswear (T-shirt logo and design). Agency support comes from the UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and the Farm and Industry Short Course, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection”s Dairy Business Innovation Center, and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Various local and statewide media outlets will be covering the ride, including radio hosts Bob Bosold of Eau Claire”s WAXX Radio and Pam Jahnke of the Wisconsin Farm Report.
To contribute to the Ride to Farm, or to obtain a brochure and find out how to collect pledges, please contact:
The UW Foundation-Friends of the WSBDF Fund, Attn: Jodi Wickham, (608) 263-2027; jodi.wickham@uwfoundation.wisc.edu or Carol Chapa, (608) 265-4049; carol.chapa@uwfoundation.wisc.edu
Or mail to:
The UW Foundation
Attn: Jodi Wickham; Friends of the WSBDF Fund
1848 Univ. Ave., PO Box 8860
Madison, WI 53708-8860