You’ve probably been there. You got that shiny new bike, mom or dad took off the training wheels, and then it was your time. Your time to prove to yourself and the world that you could do it…you could actually bike. Maybe you wobbled, maybe you fell, but you straightened yourself and you got back on and you did it. The wind whipped through your hair and you raced around the neighborhood: finally, you were biking. Not to take away from your bright shining moment, but when was the last time you took that bike out on a 400 mile journey through New England? Umm, yeah.
Well, for Glenn Charles, a world traveler, adventurer, and internationally recognized photographer, the trip isn’t too daunting. On September 11 from 11-12:30, he will start his solo journey at McLevy Green in Bridgeport, travel through CT, RI, MA, and NH, then will end up at Deering Park Farmers’ Market in Portland, ME on 9/27. His trip, Farm to Table Cycle: A Journey for Change, is a 400 mile trek that Glenn is making with the support of Wholesome Wave. Along the way, he will be stopping at various places in order to highlight local food systems and bring awareness to how important every individual piece is: from farms, to markets, to schools, to pantries, to restaurants, and even to fisheries.
In a recent press release, Michel Nischan, CEO of Wholesome Wave (and awesome guy in general) shared, “What you will see is that ‘farm-to-table’ is the way of the future. New England is home to four million acres of farmland and a growing number of small and mid-sized farms. Farm to Table Cycle will unveil the many facets of our country’s food system. It will share with you the story of so many Americans who work diligently and tirelessly to shape our food system into one that is more equitable, more sustainable and more delicious.”
When we heard about Farm to Table Cycle and Glenn’s journey, we couldn’t help but be amazed…so much so that we sought him out through our friends at Wholesome Wave. So, let’s dig a little deeper into what Glenn’s trip will be like, how the idea started, the significance of the trip, his trusty mod-ed bike, and his plans for the future. Oh, and if Glenn’s trip inspires you, feel free to join him on any leg of his journey.
How did the idea to travel New England from CT to ME by bike come to you?
Over the last 6 years I have been traveling by bike or kayak throughout the world. I learned early on that traveling by these means broke down the barriers between strangers in a way that I had never experienced. After my trip for I Love New York, where we paddled tandem kayaks from Niagra Falls to the Statue of Liberty, I realized that there was an opportunity to use Adventure Travel as a means to promote a cause.
After some initial discussions with Wholesome Wave about this concept and a few brain storming discussions, it became apparent to us both that a bike trip through New England in the fall would be the perfect place to start highlighting the amazing work of communities to create a sustainable local food system. Wholesome Wave has a terrific network of partners throughout the region who were able to help us identify some of the key places to stop and connect us with farmers and organizations doing work on the ground.
We think that Wholesome Wave has an amazing message behind it and we see the great change that they are making in the country, day by day. How did you, though, come to work with them?
It was two years ago that I volunteered to photograph one of their Silent Auctions. I was so very impressed with Michel Nischan, Wholesome Wave, and what they were trying to accomplish that I became persistent in communicating concepts with them. Last year I had the pleasure of photographing one of the clinics in Maine that runs their Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program. Seeing first hand the people who are in need, and whom desperately want choices in how and what they eat, reinforced the need to collaborate on a trip. I guess you could say it was then that we came up with the initial seeds of the trip concept and have been working since to solidify plans.
Why do you feel that this is an important trip to make?
It is clear to me that we as a country have produced a system that makes it easier for families and children to eat highly processed food instead of fresh fruits, vegetables, and humanely raised meat and seafood products. This system, in my opinion, is one of the key reasons that we see such an obesity problem in our young children.
Anything that I can do, with my actions, my words, or my images, that can help shed light on viable alternatives to the current systems, is a worthy effort.
How have you been prepping for your journey?
There are a great deal of organizational activities that go into putting a trip like this together. Working closely with the great staff at Wholesome Wave, we have been identifying key stops, sorting out logistics, and making sure that we create a high level of awareness about the trip before it even starts. As with all trips like this, once they commence, they will find a life of their own, which is where the excitement really begins.
For all the bike nerds out there: what bike will you be making the trek with?
I love gear questions, especially ones about bikes and cameras. For this trip I chose to ride my Salsa Ti Fargo. The Fargo is a bike that can easily be configured for all types of trips, including touring on roads, trails and dirt. This trip will be largely road based, so I have switched up a few things such as different tires, aero bars, and a modified bike packing system that will meet my specific trip requirements.
Is there anything that’s intimidating about the trip to you?
I think the only thing that is a bit intimidating is the Boston region. Getting in and out of that dense Urban area will be a bit challenging, but other than that, no. The staff at Wholesome Wave have done a great job of making my daily schedule very achievable.
And, after this trip, do you think you’d consider taking a tour of other US regions to bring awareness about local food systems?
Absolutely. I am passionate about this issue and have found a great partner in Wholesome Wave. We have already begin thinking about what a Farm to Table Cycle part 2 could look like. The neat thing about this campaign and the model it is based off of, is that it is replicable in other areas of the country. There are communities across the nation that are doing amazing work to create a more sustainable food future – and we could use to shine a spotlight on all of them. Hopefully New England is just the beginning!
9/11 Bridgeport, CT
9/12 Madison, CT to Providence, RI
9/13-14 Providence, RI
9/15-16 Boston, MA
9/17 Boston to Gloucester, MA
9/18 Gloucester, MA to Exeter, NH
9/19 Exeter, NH to Portsmouth, NH
9/20-21 Portsmouth, NH
9/22 Portsmouth, NH to Portland, ME
9/23 Portland, ME to Augusta, ME
9/24 Augusta to Albion, ME
9/25 Albion to Portland, ME
9/26 Libson, ME to Portland ME
9/27 Portland, ME (The End)
Farm to Table Cycle is the only regional solo cycling campaign of its kind. All funds raised will support Wholesome Wave’s work to help make fresh, healthy food affordable and available to everyone. This trip is sponsored by Naked Juice, Organic Valley, Shearwater Coffee, Whole Foods, Cohill’s Inn, Farm Star Living, Newman’s Own Organics, and CowPots. Visit www.farmtotablecycle.com to donate today.