Like many first generation farmers, Joannée DeBruhl came to agriculture in a roundabout way. After being laid off, Joannée and a few friends started a community garden to benefit Gleaner’s Community Food Bank. The success of this project ignited Joannée’s deep passion for agriculture and her desire to become a full-time farmer. Recognizing her need for a more formal agricultural education, Joannée enrolled in the MSU Student Organic Farms’ Organic Farmer Training Program (OFTP) in 2010. In the OFTP, she spent 9 months immersing herself in the nuances of growing healthy, organic plants and running a farm business.
In our 2017 Guide to Local Food in Northern Michigan, we profiled Alpena in Northeastern Michigan. Now, it’s Cheboygan’s time to shine. We talked with a few farms/businesses that are driven by making local food more accessible to their community.
On the edge of Ann Arbor, at the Tillian Farm Development Center, dark leafy greens and crisp, flavorful salad mixes are artfully tended by Hannah Rose Webber. A first generation farmer, Hannah is in her third season cultivating crops as The Land Loom. She currently rents 1.5 acres at Tillian where she follows organic practices to produce high quality greens and summer fruits (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc.).
“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.
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.
The clocks don’t match exactly, but we know it’s time to unlock the doors when the first eager shoppers of the day are peeking in at the gleaming seafood cases. Our team at Burritt’s has been assembling products, cutting and grinding meat, planning for the day, and straightening up for at least an hour.