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.
The Court Yard Restaurant has become a time-honored tradition for many Alpena locals since the early 1980’s. Purchased in 2006 by natives Chris and Lora Carlson, the restaurant has worked to carry on the legacy of the original owner, Dave Patin. As Chris said, he just “wants a place where he can bring his own kids to eat and know they’re getting healthy food and a great environment to eat it in.”
Like many of the gems of northeastern Michigan, Stoney Acres Winery is a family legacy of determination and local artistry off the beaten path. Located outside of downtown Alpena, tucked away on a small neighborhood street, the winery has been around since 2003, when Jim and Helen Grochowski and their daughter Amy introduced wines to the public in the tessellated tasting room. Since that time, the shop has expanded to offer candies, hand-dipped truffles made with their wines, Shipwreck sodas made with Michigan sugar, and now a whole new summer farm-to-table experience.
When I woke up today, the last breakfast I thought I’d be eating was kimchi and a myriad of unique pickled items including, but not limited to: roasted brussel sprouts, rutabaga, beef heart, asparagus, carrots, pork loin, whole smelt, and eggs, just to name a few. But Scott McQuarrie, farmer and owner of the Alpena General Store (AGS), had other ideas. Scott seems to frequently be a man of business innovation, and all things food and farming.
Ever wonder why a restaurant and market in northern Michigan would undertake the overwhelming task of transitioning to nearly 100% farm-to-table? After all, “locally grown” takes on a whole new level of difficulty in our arctic locale.
Alpena Municipal Council just voted 5-0 to allow Eric Peterson to host a craft beer festival on September 30th this year at his restaurant, The Fresh Palate, and bar, The Nucleus. The festival will offer different craft beers from 30 breweries and brewpubs, including Austin Brothers Beer Company out of Alpena and Arcadia Ales from Kalamazoo from 3pm-9pm that day.
The city will block off 2nd Avenue in downtown Alpena for the event. There will be live performances from local artists, outdoor games, multiple food vendors including locally sourced options, and an opportunity to mark the occasion with specialty beer glasses and Beer Fest t-shirts. Each brewery will be educating people about the different styles of brews they bring to the fest and go in depth about tastes and aromas and truly inform participants about their craft. Alpena looks forward to this becoming an annual event and having an opportunity to offer more locally sourced items to Michiganders throughout the year.
This is still a developing story. So, mark your calendars for September 30th and keep tabs on www.freshpalategourmet.com/ and our social media for more info.
In 2014, when I moved with my husband and son to my family’s Centennial Farm in Posen, Michigan, I never thought I would have such an extraordinary chance to impact the local food system in the place we call home. From the moment we arrived, other farmers took us in, mentored us, and shared vital information and resources. We knew that if Presque Isle Farm was going to truly succeed in this persnickety and often bitter climate, we had to not only extend our growing season, but continue to partner with others on every level imaginable to vitalize northeastern Michigan’s food system.