A Saturday bicycle ride gives a double meaning to the "green" movement: the ride itself is coupled with the opportunity to view green gardens and greenhouses.
The place to be is Pioneer Park at 8 a.m. this Saturday, when the United Living Community hosts Tour de Gardens, a bike-a-thon to benefit the newly expanded ULC Rehabilitation and Therapy Department.
With four different rides to choose from, this year's Tour has something for everybody – from families with small children looking for a leisurely and shorter ride to long-range riders who like a challenging distance. Cyclists can choose from an eight-mile, 20-mile or 40-mile route that takes them from the ULC to a variety of area gardens and greenhouses where they can learn about local produce and growing practices.
Tour coordinator Jennifer Lacher-Starace said, "We had a great response to this event last year. We've worked hard to create a fun day for families and for the community."
In planning this year's Tour, the ULC partnered with Sioux River Bicycles & Fitness; Children's Museum of South Dakota; Buy Fresh, Buy Local South Dakota; Downtown Brookings, Inc.; and Clean Slate.
Participating in this year's Tour are Norm's Greenhouse, Sandersen Gardens, Gilkerson Gardens, Hillside Prairie Gardens, and Good Roots Farm. All the routes include a visit to the Brookings Farmers Market.
Additionally, there is a family ride that winds through downtown Brookings and on to the Children's Museum, where staff and volunteers have a number of free activities planned for the front lawn of the museum.
All riders will return to the ULC, where a buffet-style lunch, catered by the ULC Dietary Department, will be available at the picnic shelter on the south side of Pioneer Park; fresh local produce and family fun will be featured.
"We really want to encourage people to join us for lunch," Lacher-Starace said. "The food is going to be fresh and fantastic, and there are going to be great activities – especially for the kids."
Included are a performance by the Brookings Public Library's puppet club, a petting zoo, furry friends from the Brookings Regional Humane Society and local vendors and information booths.
The registration fee is $30 for individual riders and $50 for families. Lunch tickets for non-riders are $7 for adults, $5 for children ages 4 to 12, and free for children younger than 4.
Free childcare is available at the ULC Child Development Center for parents registered to ride. Contact ULC in advance to sign up for childcare.
Registration forms are available at ULC and Sioux River Bicycles & Fitness. For additional information and to regisiter online, log on to www.UnitedALIVE.com.