Cycle route around Reepham boosts local food producers
To Norfolk's cycling community it is no secret that the county is one of the best places in which to ride a bike.
With lots of quiet lanes as well as long-distance cycleways, such as Marriott's Way, our part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network and the Bure Valley cycle path, there are plenty of reasons to get out on two wheels. And to celebrate Bike Week at the end of this month, a new incentive has been lined up to get more people enjoying pedal power – what's more, it involves some of the finest food our county has to offer.
Reepham Green Team, with the support of Broadland District Council, has put together a Food Miles Cycle Ride asking food suppliers to welcome cyclists to sample their produce and encourage them to support their establishments in the future, as well as to reduce their carbon footprint when shopping.
So far, 20 food suppliers have signed up, ranging from delicatessens to butchers and fishmongers, and a website has been set up so participants can plan a route and the distance they want to travel.
The event on Saturday is free to take part in and is open to cyclists of all abilities, whether a family just wanting to go on an outing of a few miles or an experienced cyclist keen to clock up a good distance. Each participant is asked to record the total of miles cycled so the final number of Food Miles covered by all the riders can be calculated.
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Jeremy Brockman, of Reepham Green Team, came up with the idea of combining food and cycling. He said he felt the two complemented each other since cyclists needed to refuel regularly on rides.
'I also wanted to make it appeal to everyone so, rather than have an organised route, people can choose where they want to go and how far,' he said. 'My wife pointed out that it was rather like the Norfolk Churches Trust bike ride, so we modelled it on that but using food instead of churches.'
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He said he was thrilled with the number of suppliers getting involved and how well they had latched on to the concept. 'It is turning food miles on its head because we want to find out how many miles we will travel to get to food rather than how many miles it is travelling to get to us,' said Mr Brockman.
Diane Turner, who has run Diane's Pantry at Reepham for more than 30 years, said: 'I think it will be good for the town and for business, which is what we all need at the moment.
'We do get a few cyclists coming through because it is on Marriott's Way, but a lot of people going to the coast drive past.
'It is a lovely Georgian town which has stayed much as it used to be, but we are off the map.'
She said the Green Team had been working hard to reduce the town's carbon footprint with schemes such as car sharing and car borrowing.
Terri Jaggard, owner of All Things Nice caf� and delicatessen at nearby Cawston, said they were keen to support the event. She explained: 'We are passionate about using local produce and always welcome cyclists.'
And Ian Auld, chef at V's Caf� at Reepham, said: 'Being so close to the Marriott's Way, this will be good for both business and people's health.'
People wanting to take part can register at www.foodmilesride.org or www.bikeweek.org.uk, where they can find out about lots of other events going on. If you are a local food supplier in Broadland and would like to take part, register at the Food Miles Ride website.
Broadland council is promoting the event to potential visitors to the area through www.visitbroadland.co.uk and www.visitnorfolk.co.uk. It has contacted every Broadland business and resident to encourage them to take part and has asked that every local food supplier adds itself to the map.
Team Green Britain Bike Week (June 18-26) is one of the UK's biggest annual promotions of cycling and provides a national umbrella for locally-organised events and activities up and down the UK. Team Green Britain, founded by EDF Energy, is a movement that enables people to live in a more sustainable way. It aims to help Britons reduce their carbon footprint by 2012.
Reepham Green Team was set up in 2004 as a network of individuals and community groups focused on developing projects to reduce the town's carbon footprint. Reepham was one of the first towns in the UK to carry out a comprehensive community carbon audit, and the results, analysed by CRed at the University of East Anglia, showed that its carbon emissions per head were 48pc above the national average. The team helped to develop and deliver an action plan of more than 40 projects to tackle the issues.