By Bill Palladino
A farmer I know, let’s call him John, is up late tonight in his orchard. As a Leelanau County farmer, his work requires vigilance. It’s been a wet summer so far, and that means there’s a virtual laboratory of bugs, molds, and fungi waiting to threaten his way of life. Tonight, reluctantly, he sprays an insecticide to head off the codling moth hatch that’s sure to devastate his orchards.
There’s a break in the rain, and John’s training tells him he’s got the opening he needs. The Wind dies down at night too, making it a lot less likely that what he’s spraying will end up on unintended fields. All of this information points to the fact that now is the time. John decides to follow this lead and get to work, but it happens to be midnight.
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and can coast down them…. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motorcar only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”
~ Ernest Hemingway
Some may argue there’s no greater combo than pairing a bucolic bike ride with a glass of wine (or two) when you reach your destination. I’ll do you one (or a few) better….how about biking to a vineyard in northeastern Michigan and being greeted with a cornucopia of wines, a pop-up food bar created by a local chef, and a tour of the almost 15 year old vines with Thunder Bay Winery and vineyard owners? Well, look no further: Tour De Vine with Harborside Cycle and Sport has become an annual event to celebrate just outside of Alpena, in pastoral Ossineke, a place that has become surprisingly fruitful for Michigan grown grapes.
Stepping into The Flying Moose, in downtown Marquette, feels like what stepping into a store probably felt like 100 years ago, except now there is kombucha on tap. The shelves are filled with spices, wines, syrups, and skateboards.
Did you know that farmers receive only 17 cents per retail sales dollar (on average) when their food is sold through traditional channels? The remaining 83 cents of this dollar goes to middlemen, distributors, and other players in the food system. Selling direct to consumer (farmers markets, roadside stands, CSA programs, etc.) generates higher margins for farmers (and strengthens consumer’s ties to their food) but can come with its own set of unique challenges and risks: unfavorable weather impacting sales, large time/energy demands, lack of convenience, and seasonality.
The Oakland County Farmers’ Market has been bringing good food to Oakland County for nearly 100 years. Originally located in downtown Pontiac, the market first opened in 1922. Thirty one years later (1953), the market moved to its current location a few miles away in Waterford. The market still exists in this location and is currently operated by Oakland County Parks and Recreation.
It might be surprising to hear, but finding the perfect CSA Farm is a lot like choosing a love match.
“Every mobile farm market is unique to the community it’s in,” said Erica Bloom, the program director of Growing Hope in Ypsilanti. Through their urban farm demos, in-school programs, farmers markets, and more, Growing Hope offers educational opportunities and greater access to healthy foods in the area.“We have been learning together with our partners in Detroit, Lansing, and Flint on how to best bring fresh produce into the neighborhoods.”
Breakaway Cafe just celebrated its first birthday, and as any parents of new babies would tell you – I’m exhausted. But as those same parents would tell you – I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
When you step into Benjamin Twiggs, you are greeted with the most heavenly aroma… locally roasted Cherry Vanilla Coffee.. the coffee of the day. Your eyes are drawn to the wall of cherry products to your right. After a few steps, you are welcomed with a friendly hello by our staff… today it is Cindy. She offers you a cup of that incredible coffee, and introduces you to our sample table. She will invite you to taste what is already laid out, and of course invite you to sample anything else you want to try.
Calling all farmers, new and old!
Be sure to register your farm with the 2017 Census of Agriculture before June 30th!
This census occurs every 5 years and conducts a complete count of all US farms–including the smallest plots of land, rural or urban, as long as they raise or sell at least $1,000 worth of agricultural product during the census year.
What is this information used for?
This information is used by the Census of Agriculture to influence Congress, agribusiness, policymakers, researchers, local governments and many others on the creation and funding of agricultural programs and services – decisions that can directly impact your local operations and the future of the agriculture industry for years to come.
The survey takes just a moment, so register your farm now: https://www.agcounts.usda.gov/legacy0/cgi-bin/counts
Emma Beauchamp is the Local Food Coordinator for NW Michigan and the Communications Manager for Taste the Local Difference. Contact her at email@example.com