Story: Farm shop tour by bike on the Magadino Plain

Fresh veg on two wheels

Cycling through cornfields, greenhouses and orchards to discover Ticino's pantry: delicious, genuine local products.

A trip to the shops becomes a family outing when you leave the car behind. La spesa in fattoria combines fitness with healthy eating, sustainable consumption and fun! And what could be fresher than buying straight from a farm shop?

THE CHARACTER

Marcello Stivan, promoter of non-motorized traffic

Marcello Stivan, promoter of non-motorized traffic
Combining exercise, healthy eating and sustainable mobility.

9 am. Meeting point: Bellinzona station by the BikePort. Organiser Marcello Stivan loads cool boxes onto his cargo bike as the first participants take a test lap on their high-performance rented folding bikes. The lucky ones have managed to get an e-bike. Others have brought their own bikes and are raring to go. The group leaves right on time headed towards Giubiasco and Sant’Antonino, and Marcello knows all the best routes. And so the tour around some of the local agricultural highlights passes firstly through urban areas and then out across the Magadino Plain past maize fields, vegetable gardens, greenhouses, cows, cats and chickens, far away from the throng of traffic. After 6 km, the group reaches their first pitstop: the Azienda Agricola Mozzini. Here and at a few others places close by, visitors can enjoy what each farm shop has to offer: fresh vegetables, juicy fruit and – depending on the season – delicious berries as a boost along the way, as well as cheese, yoghurt and ice cream, honey and eggs, as well as local meat products. There’s even something to keep the little ones entertained: the farms have swings, play tractors, crayons and animals that the youngest visitors will love. 

THE FULL STORY


Piano di Magadino

What gave you the idea of doing a farm shopping tour by bike? 

“Cycling has always been my passion. Since co-founding the bike shop at Bellinzona station in 2016, I’ve done everything from bike tours and rental to courier services. My life revolves around bikes. I want to give people the opportunity to go cycling and combine this with healthy eating, sustainable consumption and more environmentally friendly mobility. I worked for thirty years in the oil & gas industry, so I have some debts to pay to Mother Nature.”

So that’s why I organise cycling tours to farm shops across the Magadino Plain. And because it’s very popular right now: the lockdown in spring 2020 meant that more people discovered little farms for themselves – basically, they were a protected area on your doorstep with fresh regional products. My initiative, supported by the Fondazione del Parco del Piano di Magadino, BancaStato, Pro Velo Ticino and the town of Bellinzona, promotes the local economy and environmental protection.

Piano di Magadino
Piano di Magadino

And all without needing a car. 

Piano di Magadino
Discover what’s on your doorstep.
Piano di Magadino

Making cycling more attractive is possible, but how? If you come with me, you’ll enjoy a nice relaxing bike ride. Participants can enjoy the tour and meet new people without having to worry about the bike, the distance or how to get their shopping home. Because that’s what would put most people off. Participants can place their purchases in the large container on my cargo bike. Fresh products are easy to keep cold in a cool bag. The farm shops even help keep their products cold by supplying ice-cold water bottles. If you don’t have a bike or want to try out a new one, it’s easy enough to rent one cheaply. 

Pro tip
Cycling in Ticino couldn’t be easier. Bikes can be rented almost anywhere, and you can even bike share. Some hotels have specialised in welcoming guests arriving on two wheels. Lots of public transport, including cable cars, permit bicycles.
Pepe della Vallemaggia, Zincarlin della Valle di Muggio, polenta and many others. The products of Ticino are very much loved, but where to find them? Each region offers typical shops ready to delight!
Organic farms use natural products, respect animal welfare, promote species-respectful rearing, and favour the creation of genuine products. There are 146 such farms in Ticino.

How do you decide which farm shops to go to? 

“On the basis of the distance. Everything is in a 15 km radius, because any cyclist can manage that. And at that distance we can reach some of the best farms on the Magadino Plain, which offer a huge range of fruit and vegetables, different dairy products, eggs and meat.”

Piano di Magadino
Piano di Magadino

Every farm is unique and has its own specialities. 

Piano di Magadino
Piano di Magadino

La Colombera, for example, has fresh cheese from the Alps, unpasteurised yoghurt, cereal products and meat. And it’s all organic. If you want, they can even bring in a fishmonger from Italy. Manuela Kraus’ farm is well-known for berries. Agrotomato specialises in tomatoes of all sizes. You can even see the huge plants in the greenhouses when you’re doing your shopping. Ortofrutticola Bassi makes fantastic pasta sauces and has a little self-service shop. And all of them, including Stornetta and Mozzini, offer the freshest possible local fruit and vegetables. 

Why do you rent out folding bikes? 

“Because they’re practical and they offer new opportunities for sustainable mobility. Brompton foldable bikes are the lightest on the market and are well known for their quality. It only takes a few seconds to fold them down to the size of rolling hand luggage and they’re free to take on the train.”

Piano di Magadino
Piano di Magadino

“Perfect, especially now that train travel to and in Ticino is even easier with the opening of the Ceneri Base Tunnel.”

Piano di Magadino
Piano di Magadino

The shopping tour is aimed at the whole family! Parents, children, grandparents! Anyone – whether a local or a tourist – who wants to discover the region. I’ve even had dogs on my cargo bike before. The route is easy, and we’re back by midday, so anyone can join in. The farms also have games and animals for children. Everyone is free to ride off on their own if they want, but we think it’s more fun as a group. 

“Treat yourself to a bike ride.” 

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