The state of Oregon is known for many things, and near the top of its list is the bike riding culture and the reliance by much of the population on local, organic foods. Two women are about to set out on a long journey to combine the two, hoping to spread the importance of both across the country through what they call the Food Cycles Bicycle Tour.
Tuula Rebhahn, who was an environmental studies major in college and has worked with the Willamette Farm & Food Coalition, and Hannah Cooper, who worked on the first organic vegetable farm in her community in Minnesota for five years before moving to Oregon and convinced three of her coworkers to start biking to work this year, are planning on biking from Eugene to Boston, Mass., this December to promote sustainability and the importance of eating healthy and locally.
The 5,000-mile trek will take them predominately through the southern U.S. before migrating north into Massachusetts. Rebhahn and Cooper will work with the Willing Workers on Organic Farms program to visit and stay at farms along their route, with which they hope to have a significant impact in their quest to affect people who may be uninformed.
Rebhahn and Cooper are getting in touch with farmers markets, Rotary clubs, YMCAs, schools and churches, looking to talk to anyone who wants to hear what they have to say about living life in an environmentally friendly and healthy way.
“We want to take that message that we are living so well here, and change the rest of the country, and inspire people to do a little bit more to lower their impact and live healthier and be happier,” Rebhahn says.
Cooper thought of the idea to bike across the country when she was 17, and she approached Rebhahn with it a year ago. If it was going to be done, Rebhahn knew the cross-country ride needed an influential backbone.
“Let’s have a mission,” Rebhahn says. “Let’s have a purpose. Let’s not just go. Let’s use it as a way to connect communities and learn a lot more than just by biking 60 miles a day or whatever.”
Rebhahn and Cooper’s inspiration for this monumental and potentially influential undertaking comes from their time on a farm in the local Santa Clara area called NettleEdge, where they worked for food.
They will be blogging this two-person, cross-country trip to keep those interested in following their travels up-to-date as they look to show the rest of the U.S. what makes much of Oregon tick.
To follow the dynamic duo or donate before their fundraising campaign ends Oct. 29, visit foodcyclesbiketour.blogspot.com
[This story was amended Oct. 26 to reflect that Rebhahn, not Cooper, worked at Willamette Farm and Food.]