With the trees in bloom, crops sprouting and bicycles in action, Columbus community members will celebrate the spring crop growing season with a 13-mile bike event on Saturday between The Hills Market and the North Market.

The Market to Market Bicycle Adventure is a joint effort between two Columbus markets that share a passion for supporting small, local food purveyors, said Mary Martineau, director of marketing for the North Market.

Not only do the North Market and The Hills Market have the same priorities of providing and promoting locally owned food products to consumers, but they are also connected by the Olentangy River Greenway — the bike trail where the event takes place.

The event will start with free breakfast from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Attendees can eat and start the ride at either of the markets.

At the start of the ride, participants will be issued a passport to collect stamps along the way from local vendors and organizations set up along the path. Riders who complete their passports will receive Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, a T-shirt and a reusable grocery bag from Seagull Bags filled with about $50 worth of coupons from local food vendors.

“We could have just sent folks up the bike trail, but instead we’ve incorporated other small local business and organizations who share similar ideologies,” Martineau said.

The Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association is an organization that will have a booth at the event. It is a grassroots coalition of farmers, gardeners, consumers, retailers and others who share a desire to build a healthy food system that brings prosperity to family farmers, said Lauren Ketcham, communications and membership services coordinator for the association.

Small, local and sustainable food systems can nourish bodies, communities, the local economy and environment by preserving family farms and educating consumers about local food systems, Ketcham said.

“The event is open, regardless of biking skills, to whoever wants to learn more about Ohio’s local food systems and businesses while enjoying the day outside along the Olentangy River,” she said.

Other vendors and organizations with booths on the trail are Pattycake Bakery, Opera Columbus, Sustainable Worthington and B1 Bicycles.

Casey Karnes, president and founder of B1 Bicycles, said his booth will be handing out “water bottles and other swag,” and the company will be at the event to help promote healthy lifestyles.

The first Market to Market event took place October 2009 and because of the success, it will now be held every May and October. The first event had more than 250 riders, and this year the ride is limited to 400 people to ensure breakfast is provided for all.

During and after the ride, both markets will be hosting activities for riders and community members. The markets will have food sampling and live entertainment from local musicians.

“It’s a good way to learn more about two local independent markets and why supporting small local businesses and local foods is worthwhile,” Martineau said.

To register for the event, visit northmarket.com or thehillsmarket.com. Registration costs $15 in advance and $20 the day of the event.