The online store opens on Monday at noon and closes once 250 orders have been placed. On Saturdays farmers drop off the food that was purchased, and Roots Rising's team of community volunteers comes together to pack and deliver the food.

Roots Rising Presents Bike Ride Challenge

11:40AM / Thursday, June 18, 2020

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — When their Pittsfield Farmers Market closed due to the pandemic, Roots Rising launched a virtual farmers market to ensure the community's continued access to fresh food. 

To help support the market, Roots Rising is now calling on the community for a (socially distant) bike ride challenge: "Ride for Roots Rising." Between June 20-28, road cyclists and mountain bikers can complete either a beginner, intermediate or advanced route. 

The general registration fee is $25. There is also a low-income registration for $10, and all youth under 12 are free. The public is encouraged to form teams to rally their supporters and raise money for Roots Rising. With sponsorship from Mill Town and the Gilson Family Foundation, all donations and pledges from riders will be tripled to benefit the Virtual Farmers Market.

Prizes will be offered to the top three teams that fundraise the most. All registrants will be entered to win some additional prizes, including gift certificates to Berkshire Bike and Board, Arcadian Shop, Berkshire Outfitters, The Spoke, Guido's Fresh Marketplace, and Roots Rising's own virtual farmers market.

In addition, Mill Town and Berkshire Bike and Board are offering a bike giveaway for Pittsfield youth. 

"We are long-time supporters of Roots Rising. We love what they bring to the community with their creative approaches to youth empowerment, food access, and community engagement," said Carrie Holland, the managing director of Mill Town. "Jess and Jamie have demonstrated an impressive level of adaptability during the COVID-19 crisis, quickly pivoting to a virtual format for their farmers market and hosting this creative Ride for Roots Rising fundraiser. Not only will this event help support their food access operations, but it also provides a welcome opportunity for our community to get outside and do something active—truly a win-win."

Ride for Roots Rising is sponsored by Mill Town, The Gilson Family Foundation, and Callahan Sign Company.

The virtual farmers market work like this: Each week, customers from across Berkshire County go online and purchase food from more than 15 farmers and food producers. In order to make fresh, healthy food affordable to all, financial assistance is provided. Anyone who receives SNAP benefits or who is suffering economic hardship is eligible to receive a weekly $30 discount. And to help keep the community safe during this pandemic, all orders are delivered right to the customers' doorsteps.

The online store opens on Monday at noon and closes once 250 orders have been placed. On Saturdays farmers drop off the food that was purchased, and Roots Rising's team of community volunteers comes together to pack and deliver the food.

The impact has been significant. In just eight weeks, the market has fulfilled 1,400 orders, provided more than $18,000 in financial assistance, and generated nearly $50,000 in sales to support the local food economy.

In the words of one shopper: "These are tough times. In another lifetime I would probably be one of the volunteers for Roots Rising. Then life changes and I find both my health and my wealth compromised. I heard about the virtual farmers market a month ago. It's been tough to find anything fresh these days, so I set a reminder and log in right at noon. I add the microgreens to salads to add texture and stretch the produce we do have. I buy the eggs and was very happy to see potatoes last week. We don't shop often so it's fun to have the delivery arrive, even if it's not a large order. I'm not sure how mere words will convey how helpful it's been. It reminds me that no person is an island. We all need each other to make it through. Thanks for all you do to make it happen- you really make a difference."

Roots Rising received support from Berkshire United Way, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Berkshire Agricultural Ventures, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation to launch the Virtual Market. 

Roots Rising is an award-winning nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower youth and build community through food and farming. Its vision is to lift up teens as community changemakers and strengthen the local food system through the transformational power of meaningful work.



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