What happens when you put 75+ women farmers from around the country together for four days to tour farms and talk shop, you ask? Magic. Pure magic.
This time of year, as fresh greens dwindle to paltry proportions, and our northern Michigan season extension expiration looms, I start looking to my fall self to see what fabulous items I put aside via freezing or fermenting for the impending arctic stretch.
Farm to Fork Alcona will be hosting the Alcona Regional Farm Conference – Growing for Profit in Northeast Michigan Saturday, February 10th. Local farmers will be able to take advantage of two breakout sessions, one addressing critical info for business development such as how to measure the financial success of their farm; how to write a business plan and obtain credit; how to work more productively with state agencies; how to become MAEAP certified; how to raise livestock for sale; and how to sell produce beyond farmers markets. Come hear success stories from Leeseberg Farms, Cook Family Farm, Standen Acres, Presque Isle Farm, and the Wandering Winds Farm.
I’m not bragging, but there are a lot of cool things about my job as the NE Local Food Coordinator with Taste the Local Difference. I get to hang out with other local farmers, producers, and small business owners; I get to eat the food they’ve grown or created; drink the libations they’ve conceived; partake of their businesses’ inventions; help put on events celebrating their work; and tell everybody how great this region of Michigan is because of these people and their labors of love. It’s a pretty sweet deal.
On October 26, 2017, Thunder Bay Winery hosted a family-style dinner at their wine bar located in the historic Center Building in Alpena. Kevin Peterson, the current chef at As You Wish Gourmet Eatery and of the up and coming Red Brick Tap & Barrel Restaurant (that will be open for business in Alpena in 2018), prepared several courses and sourced 88% of this Certified Local Food Event (CLFE) from area farmers and producers from the Alpena Farmers Market including Wolf Creek Acres, Presque Isle Farm, and Alpena General Store. This was hopefully Alpena’s first of many Certified Local Food Events to come.
“How’d we end up getting this fancy lettuce? This stuff is good!” exclaimed a Posen High School student walking through the cafeteria line one day.
There’s a new Certified Local Food Event coming your way in Alcona County this month. On September 30, Farm to Fork Alcona 2017 is hosting a natural fermentation workshop and dinner at Logger’s Trace-Springport Golf Course in Harrisville, beginning at 2pm. Farm to Fork Alcona 2017 is an initiative that is part of Inspiration Alcona, a nonprofit arts and culture organization promoting the friendly rural beauty of Alcona. This initiative is working to help Alcona County become home to the farm-to- fork movement.
The Northeast Michigan Council of Governments (NEMCOG), based in Gaylord, MI, was established in 1968 as a multi-county organization to pool resources for the assistance of local governments throughout eight counties. The organization has their hand in everything from tourism, transportation, planning & community development, economic development, local government, housing, environment and natural resources, to local foods, just to name a few. By and large, the organization tends to fly under the radar in all the productive work they do that benefits our communities. But make no mistake, NEMCOG has assisted local governments obtain millions of dollars in federal and state grants for vital local projects and services.
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.
“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.