David Erickson Aug 24, 2021
The Orchard Homes neighborhood west of Reserve Street in Missoula got its name from the thousands of acres of apple trees planted in the area in the early 1900s to entice homebuyers, but only a few of the trees remain. However, with irrigation ditches and rich soil still in place, the neighborhood still supports a healthy amount of local agriculture.

For the third year in a row, a Missoula nonprofit called The Missoula Food and Agriculture Coalition is promoting a bike adventure tour and scavenger hunt to connect people with the farmers who are still harvesting food in the valley.

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Erin Turner, left, and Jennifer Zaso from the Missoula Food and Agriculture Coalition stand in one of the fields at Turner Farms, a stop in the Bike to Barns event.

TOM BAUER, Missoulian
The Bike to Barns event will take place now through Sept. 30, and cyclists can visit 10 local farm stops on a self-guided tour in the Orchard Homes and Target Range neighborhoods. Proceeds will benefit the coalition’s beginning farmer and rancher programs, farmland conservation efforts and local food access programs. One of those is an initiative that doubles the purchasing power of SNAP dollars at farmers markets.

“We’re seeing a need for this type of event in the community from both participants looking for something active, social, yet safe to do during these times and the participating farmers who are hoping to bring new people to their farm stands to become more familiar with where to buy local food,” said Jennifer Zaso, the coalition’s communications and development director.

The Bike to Barns event lets people visit 10 local farm stops on a self-guided tour.

Armed with a map provided by the coalition, bikers can taste raspberries at Red Hen Farm, pick apples at Green Bench Orchard and stock up on meat, eggs and veggies at Turner Farms. At Orchard Homes Icelandics, a visitor might be able to get an up-close look at their Icelandic sheep. Each farm will have a special offer and there are prizes to be won by completing a scavenger hunt card that comes with a registration packet.

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Bike to Barns participants can stop at Turner Farms farm stand.

TOM BAUER, Missoulian
On certain nights, visitors can check out local neighborhood farmers markets.

“Event participants receive a full adventure package that includes everything they need to have a self-guided 15-mile farm adventure tour,” Zaso said. “Bikers can complete their farm tour anytime in August or September. Package pricing options are $35 for an individual, $60 for two, and $100 for a group of four, making it both a solo and family friendly event.”

The full adventure kit includes a T-shirt or reusable tote and meal vouchers for The Trough restaurant.

TOM BAUER, Missoulian
“I live in the Target Range area and love supporting my local farmers,” said Susan Sakaye, who participated this year. “Bike to Barns is a great way to have fun and learn about the new and innovative farming methods that (the coalition) helps support through the proceeds raised by this program.”

Erin Turner, who runs Turner Farms with her husband, John, and their children, said it’s a great way for people to learn about agricultural production in the heart of the Missoula urban area.

“We love participating in Bike to Barns because we love sharing our farm with the community,” she said. “Biking from farm to farm increases awareness of the rich resource of agriculture we have out here in Orchard Homes.”

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The Bike to Barns event is meant to help connect people with local farmers in the Missoula valley.

TOM BAUER,Missoulian
She and her husband will be happy to chat with visitors about the history of agriculture in the area if they have time, she noted.

“When a community is aware and vested in their local food and farms then the future of ag is brighter,” Turner said. “It’s a win-win for all.”

To register visit online at or call 406-926-1625.