Ride the hills to support UW beginning farmer training

rideToFarmDozens of cyclists will be riding through the rolling hills of rural Iowa and Sauk counties on Saturday, May 31st in support of the next generation of dairy and livestock farmers.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers is recruiting riders and pledges for its 11th Annual Ride to Farm fundraiser. Cyclists can opt for a 52-mile (hilly; 1500 ft elevation rise) or 55-mile (hillier; 2150 ft elevation rise) all-day ride or shorter morning and afternoon rides. The ride begins and ends at Birch Lake Park in Iowa County with a mid-day stop in Spring Green, an optional lunch at Culver’s Restaurant and rest stops on farms along the way. “Farm Babe” Pam Jahnke, of the Wisconsin Farm Report, will send off the riders at 8:30am.

“We hold this event both to raise funds for scholarships and general program activities, and also to raise awareness of the importance of supporting the next generation of innovative farmers,” says WSBDF director Dick Cates. “We are grateful for contributions of any amount.”

Riders can sign up, solicit donors and track pledges online at Participants can ride either as individuals or in teams. Each rider must raise at least $75 in pledges. Rider teams that collect the highest pledge amounts will be awarded traveling trophies. Prizes will also be given to top individual fundraisers and will include a 2014 Trek road bike, 52 free Organic Valley products for a year, two tickets to American Players Theater and a Ride to Farm jersey.

The route includes rest breaks on two area farms where participants can sample locally produced cheese, milk and other treats provided by farm families and the River Valley FFA. The morning stop is north of Dodgeville at Grass Dairy, the home of Uplands Cheese, where several WSBDF graduates have served as interns and started their farming career. The lunch break will be at Culvers in Spring Green. In the afternoon, riders will stop south of Spring Green at the Cates Family Farm owned and operated by Dick and Kim Cates. The ride will culminate with beverages and an award ceremony at 3:00 pm followed by a potluck picnic at Birch Lake Park in Barneveld, WI.

WSBDF provides aspiring farmers with classroom instruction, on-farm internships, and business planning and mentoring opportunities, with an emphasis on managed grazing. Most students attend class in Madison, but many participate from classrooms around the state through a combination of local instruction and video links to Madison. The program is a partnership between the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and the Farm and Industry Short Course, both programs of the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Instructors include UW-Madison faculty, graduates of the program, mentor farmers, farm lenders and other agribusiness professionals.

Many thanks to our Ride to Farm sponsors: Culver’s Restaurants for coupons and promotional development; Organic Valley Farmer-Owned for coupons and prizes, as well as fresh cheese and milk from their farms; Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board for ride t-shirts; also Badgerland Financial, American Transmission Co., Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association, and the Wisconsin Farmers Union for their continued generous support of the WSBDF and Ride to Farm.

For more information, contact Nadia Alber: 608-265-6437 or