Meet the adventure farmers behind Pedal to Plate

Outdoor adventure is often adrenaline-fueled and fast-paced. Sometimes, though, it is important to slow down, especially when it comes to our food. That’s what Sarah and Morgan Decker, the owners of Root Bottom Farm in Madison County, N.C., believe. Sarah and Morgan have biked over 3,000 miles together across the Southeast and can also regularly be found paddling, skiing, or hiking the Appalachian Trail when they’re not working on their farm. In being a part of the local, sustainable agriculture of Western North Carolina, the Deckers have found a balance between the thrill of adventure, and the joy of slow food. BRO talked with Sarah Decker to learn more about her family’s endeavors both on and off the farm.

Q: What got you into farming?

A: I grew up on a small family farm and married a farmer. My husband, Morgan, has been farming for 11 years in Utah, Vermont, and now North Carolina for the past 8 years.

Q: What do you guys sell?

A: We do non-spray, organic vegetables and fruit. We also have a line of low-sugar jams. We use fruits both from our farm and berries that I wild harvest in our jams. Eventually we are hoping to be just an orchard and berry farm.

Q: How did you get into outdoor adventure sports? 

A: We were both raised in outdoor families, Morgan out West and myself in Virginia. I was the long-distance hiker and Morgan the long-distance biker. When we met we started doing bike tours together including a trip from our farm to Key West that was around 1,200 miles for our honeymoon. We also make sure to go out West every year to ski and raft locally in NC.

Q: How do you manage to find the balance between prioritizing extreme outdoor recreation and owning and operating a farm? 

A: It is just really important to us. We schedule our trips around my schedule as a professor and around slower times on the farm. Also living in Madison County allows us to be connected to the outdoors and the local food system. The closer we can be to our local food, the better it is for everyone. We also believe that as athletes good food is good fuel, so prioritizing healthy, local food makes us perform better as well.

Q: What can you tell me about your annual event, Pedal to Plate?

Pedal to Plate cyclists work up an appetite while biking the backroads of rural Madison County, n.c. for 35 to 46 miles. afterward, they enjoy a farm-fresh, locally-sourced feast at root bottom farm.

A: Pedal to Plate is a bicycle tour through Madison County that takes cyclists to four or five small farms. They’ll receive a guided or self guided tour that shows the ins and outs of each farm. People who come out can sample products at each farm on the tour, so they’re fed all day long. The tour ends at Root Bottom with a feast that is almost 100% locally crafted by two local chefs, one of whom operates a homestead on the tour! The whole idea is to get people excited about cycling, community, and local food. This is our fourth year hosting Pedal to Plate and we’ve sold out every year. The farms also partner with local non-profits and have donated 10% of sales to the Friends of Madison County Animals and the Community Housing Coalition. We love to keep it small and with all the farmers, volunteers and riders we feed just under 100 people in front of our renovated tobacco barn.

Q: What is the ride like?

A: It is a 35-mile route with an average 3,300-foot elevation gain, so it isn’t exactly easy. We also offer optional routes that are more challenging at 46 miles with a 4,400 foot elevation gain. Needless to say, everyone is pretty hungry by the time we gather to eat. While the ride is challenging, it is a very relaxed event and we’re very excited for this year! 

Pedal to Plate will be held on Sunday, September 8 this year. You can learn more about Root Bottom Farm and the Pedal to Plate event at RootBottomRarm.com/PedalToPlate.