MARQUETTE - Locally-grown food means what we eat doesn't have to be transported thousands of miles, consuming fossil fuels to get to our plates. It also means you don't have to take a car to visit the farm where it was grown.
Each year, the Marquette Food Co-op offers tours of local farms so people in the area can see how their food is grown and who grows it.
This year, participants in the free tours have a new option.
Jeff Hatfield of Seeds and Spores Family Farm shows off spinach that he planted the previous fall. Seeds and Spores is one of the area farms included on upcoming bicycle tours organized by KMK?Cycling and the marquette Food Co-op. (Journal file photo)
KMK Cycling, an area bicycling club, is organizing bike rides to the farm tours this summer, to allow those on the tours to get exercise and try out a new mode of transportation.
"We're just piggy-backing on what the co-op's been doing for years," said Sarah Anderson, a board member for KMK. "We try to encourage people to use a bike as a method of transportation. Marquette is really getting more recognized. We have a lot more options for people to think of bicycling as a means of transportation, not just recreation."
The co-op has coordinated two farm tour dates this summer, set for this Sunday and Sunday, August 8.
Sunday's tour allows visitors to check out Beaver Grove Bison, Seeds and Spores Family Farm, Blueberry Knoll Cattle Company and The Smiling Dog Cut Flower Farm.
Those interested in taking the roughly 43-mile trip on bicycle can meet at the Mattson Lower Harbor Park at 12:15 p.m.
Although the ride might not be suitable for someone who hasn't been riding at all this summer, the ride will be mostly road riding with a leader and a sweep rider.
"You don't have to be a super hard-core rider," Anderson said.
One of the farms will include a snack stop for the riders.
"It's just an opportunity for the community to go out and meet the farmers," said Kelly Cantway, volunteer and promotions coordinator for the co-op.
The co-op also provides a farm "passport" for visitors either to pick up at the Co-op or print off online at www.marquettefood.coop.
The passport allows people to keep track of which farms they have visited, and get a stamp at each one. Completed passports can later be turned in for a prize drawing.
Besides Sunday and the Aug. 8 farm tour, the co-op has also coordinated tours of farms lying farther away from Marquette, including Guindon Farms in Cornell and Krause Farms in Engadine on Sunday, July 25, and Sunday, Aug. 22, respectively.
Anderson said biking to the farm tours was a perfect match for bike enthusiasts.
"All these emerging farms are so exciting in terms of having access to local and diverse food," she said.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.