Local police officer will bike across Virginia to support farmers’ markets

And he hopes to raise $10,000 while doing it.

patrick warner

Richmond Police Officer Patrick Warner bikes an average 15 miles a day while patrolling his Carytown beat. Next week, Warner will begin a ride that takes him far beyond his usual patrol–a 500 mile trek across Virginia.

“I’ve always had a desire to bike across the state,” said Warner, a 15-year veteran of the RPD, by phone from Lexington, taking a break from a 50-mile practice ride.

When Warner joined the force 15 years ago, Richmond had the highest per capita murder rate in the country with roughly 120 homicides a year. And while Warner has watched the city’s murder rate plummet, he’s seen an entirely different trend on the rise: people becoming “more and more cognizant of what we eat and buy and cook,” he said. “There’s definitely been a big change.”

He himself became more aware of his food choices when he became a father 10 years ago. In the years since, he’s seen markets like South of the James, Byrd House, St. Stephen’s grow in popularity.

A year ago, he created The Carytown Farmers Market, the only market in the city that runs on Sunday. “I thought there was a need for a Sunday market” to give Richmonders another day to buy locally-sourced food.

He soon befriended Karen Atkinson, founder of GrowRVA,1 who recently created a nonprofit program called FeedRVA. The program works in tandem with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides financial assistance for food purchases made by low-income people.2 FeedRVA matches an individual’s SNAP funds dollar-for-dollar at all area farmers’ markets.

“I just thought it’s a great idea,” Warner said about the program. “It pushes somebody who would otherwise not eat local and healthy alternatives” to give farmers’ markets a try. It’s good for the people in need of food, and for the local farmers’ they buy from.

Warner wanted to do something to help FeedRVA, so he decided to combine his wish to bike across the Commonwealth with the goal of raising awareness and funds for FeedRVA and the Virginia Farmers’ Market Managers Association. What resulted is the Virginia Market Ride Fundraiser, a statewide bike ride that Warner will undertake during Virginia Farmers’ Market Appreciation Week. With luck, his pedaling will raise $10,000.

On Saturday, August 3rd, Warner departs from Yorktown to begin his seven-day, 500-mile ride. In addition to biking across Commonwealth, Warner will also visit state farmers’ markets during his trip, averaging one each day. He’ll finish his ride in the mountain town of Big Stone Gap on Saturday, August 10th.

To do it, he’ll need to bike an average of 70 miles a day. But the physical demands aren’t what unnerves Walker. “For me, I think the hardest part is the mind over matter [aspect],” he said. To help prepare both mind and body, Warner bikes between 20-50 miles when he’s not patrolling Carytown. But he thinks the sore muscles he’ll soon experience will be well worth it.

“Any awareness I can bring for farmers’ markets and farmers…I think would be great,” he said.

You can donate to the Virginia Market Ride Fundraiser here.

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Footnotes

  1. The organization behind other local farmers markets like South of the James and the Hardywood Farmers Market. 
  2. More than 858,000 across Virginia rely on SNAP funding for food. 
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Nathan Cushing

Nathan Cushing is a writer, journalist, and RVANews Editor.

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