Tour treats bike riders to local farms
JOCKO VALLEY — The Mission Mountain Area Pedal to Plate (MMAPP) bike tour kicked off on Saturday in a 26-mile route through farms around Arlee.
“The whole goal behind it is to promote our small-scale agriculture and the really diverse range of producers that we have here,” explained Mission West Cooperative Development Center Director Kaylee Thornley.
Started five years ago, a group of community members came together to work on agriculture tourism and stimulate local farms. As the area is great for biking as well, they approached Mission West Community Development Partners in Ronan with the idea and Mission West has acted as the fiscal sponsor ever since.
“It really promotes the farms,” Thornley explained. “We attract tourists here, they visit the farms and then when they see them at the farmers market or at the Good Food Store in Missoula, they have that recognition and are aware of the local food we have in this area and want to buy it to support farm families.”
Additionally, funds from the event often go towards supporting local bike causes, such as kids’ bike and helmet giveaways. This year’s funds will be going toward the Pedal Port bike hostile being developed in Ronan.
The biggest ride ever with 150 participants, this year’s route took participants through local farms Thunder Road Farm, Rock Raven Caprines, Mountain Meat Shares, and Harlequin Organic Produce, and three points of interest, including the Jocko River and the Garden of 1000 Buddhas. The last farm on the list, Sophie’s Farm and Orchard, ended up unable to be toured due to illness.
“It’s pretty exciting because it’s a lot of new farms that we haven’t gotten to visit or feature before,” Thornley commented.
Each farm offered visitors a taste of their local specialties to go along with the tour. Rock Raven Caprines served goat cheese and on Crow’s View Farm sourdough drizzled with local honey. Harlequin Farm offered Flare Pop popsicles made with produce from Fresh Roots Farm. Mountain Meat Shares, with Rusty Nail Farm, offered Horiatiki salad with fresh produce from Harlequin Farm and hummus from Montana-grown lentils and held lunch in lieu of Sophie’s Farm and Orchard.
Thunder Road Farm, the start and end point for the day, offered participants a farm-to-table dinner, live music from the Western Montana Musician’s Co-op and a farmers market where riders could support the farms they’d visited.
“I love the dinner at the end,” Thornley said. “I feel like it all reinvigorates (the participants). People were dancing and enjoying each other’s company and that was just really satisfying to see at the end of the ride, how much people were just enjoying being together.”
Mission West is always looking for volunteers to help organize the event throughout the year. Those interested should reach out to Thornley at 406-676-5919 or email: email@example.com.
At this time, next year’s MMAPP ride is planned for the third weekend in September. To sign up or find out more, visit: www.bikereg/mmapp.