Michael Timmins was initiated into the world of food at a young age. His parents owned three bakeries in metro Detroit. And since that time, although Timmins has traveled the world and garnered gastronomic knowledge from the best of the best, from Japan to Germany to Israel, he sticks to his Michigan roots.
America’s highly productive food system is one of its beloved accomplishments. But the environment has paid a high price for this abundance, especially our rivers, streams, and lakes. In fact, according to the EPA’s National Water Quality Inventory Report, agriculture is considered to be “the most widespread source of impairment in the nation’s assessed lake acres.” Industrial agriculture is among the leading causes of water pollution in the United States today. Data indicates this method of food production often wastes large quantities of water, even when nearby communities are experiencing water shortages (check out California’s nut production dilemma).
Ponder for a moment the number of people that metro San Diego is home to (about 3 ½ million)…and consider all the locally sourced food and beer they have access to in that big city (hint: it’s A LOT). Next envision that same number of people coming through a tiny village on the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, squeezed in over only three to four months of the year. Now imagine only having one small, burgeoning brewery in that entire town to service all those travelers in that short span of time.
This year marked the 6th Annual Michigan Maple Weekend (March 24th-25th in NE Michigan), although the weather didn’t want to cooperate. There’s a pattern of freezing and thawing once spring hits, which builds up pressure within the trees and causes sap to flow. It was bitterly cold as I walked around 4D Acre Maple to check out their set up.
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.