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Toasting and Tasting Michigan’s Finest

Drinks, Event, farm-to-table, Find Local Food, Local Ingredients, Molly Stepanski

The months that produce the most diversity of fruits and vegetables in our dear Mitt include August, September, and October. October almost seems to embody a last-grab month of seasonal bounty before the long hunkered-down winter of root and storage vegetables begins. So what better time of the year to treat yourself to an extraordinarily fresh and local dining experience, paired with some of Michigan’s finest wines at Thunder Bay Winery?

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Culture, Collaboration, and Local Food

Alex Palzewicz, Beer, Event, farm-to-table, Farmers Markets, Find Local Food

When we look back through the history of festivals, events or gatherings related to farming, food, and harvests – you’ll find that each will have their own version or interpretation of what that celebration represents. From the ancient sacrifices in honor of Greek gods, to our modern-day hometown harvest festivals – you won’t find one occasion quite the same.  One contributing factor to those differences, is location. A harvest festival in Spain often highlights grapes, where here in Michigan we celebrate cherries and blueberries. Our geography and local climate largely determine when we hold these events and what they celebrate. Another important piece is the people. Throughout history cultural influences such as religion, art, politics, and business have shaped rituals that find their way into being. As time goes on, activities evolve, disappear, grow, and sometimes become honored by tradition. Many cultures mention in their own ways, the importance of coming together as a group, family or community and the vital social connection these moments bring.These same reasonings can be applied to the MQT Local Food Fest,

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Taking Matters Into Our Own Hands

farm-to-table, Find Local Food, Molly Stepanski, restaurant

You either sink or swim under the grueling demands of a busy professional kitchen. Chad Edwards has been cooking in Gaylord restaurants since age 14, and was the chef for two establishments in the city before turning 21. After years of rigor and practice, Edwards’ was swimming full bore on October 28, 2010, when he opened The Bearded Dogg Lounge. And at this colorful cafe, “you may sit in a booth made from old doors or at the bar crafted from maple flooring from the local nunnery, at a gathering table, in a loveseat, or at any one of several antique dining tables.” You can tell a lot of love and ingenuity has been put into this place. And it’s not just the quirky, hand-hewn seating and masterful plating of food. It’s the flourishing garden in the adjacent field constructed and tended by Chad and his father that accents the menu’s favorites. It’s the fact that Edwards wants to create a line of his own bottled salad dressings and brews the restaurant’s Doggweiser Blonde Ale. It’s the fact that in northeastern Michigan, Chad Edwards is pioneering in an old way of doing things again.

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Cultivating Health through School Gardens

Benefit, farm-to-table, Find Local Food, Health, Marissa Natzke, Paula Martin, Stories

Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District (TBA ISD) is using gardening as a tool to improve student health. Thanks to SNAP-ED funding through the USDA and the Michigan Fitness Foundation, TBA ISD implements a program called LifeSPAN, which performs cooking and nutrition lessons year round in the classroom to increase students fruit and vegetable intake and physical activity levels. Currently, they’re running summer garden camps where kids partake in nutrition lessons, help in school gardens, and cook healthy meals using produce they harvest.

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Farm to Table Dinner at MSU Tollgate Farm to feature local food prepared by chef and MSU alumnus Jeff Rose

Benefit, Drinks, Emily Kittendorf, Event, farm-to-table, Find Local Food, Guest Post, Southeast Michigan

Jeff Rose, Michigan State University alumnus and Come as You Are (CAYA) Smokehouse Grill executive chef, will be the featured chef at the MSU Tollgate Farm to Table Dinner, Aug. 25, 2018, at 4 p.m. The event’s four-course meal will highlight food grown at the MSU Tollgate Farm in Novi, Michigan, or from farms within a 25-mile radius of the facility.

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Community Connections Cooking Up at The Gathering Place

farm-to-table, Find Local Food, Local Ingredients, Marissa Natzke, Stories

Senior Resources in Benzie County is committing to the community they serve in new ways. The Gathering Place is working with Taste the Local Difference to improve mealtime at their center. Thanks to funds from the Building Healthy Communities grant, this partnership is catering meals to meet nutritional needs of older adults while simultaneously incorporating more fresh, local produce into meal time.

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As Fresh as Possible: Garden 2 Table Dinner Series

Bailey Samp, Drinks, Event, farm-to-table, Find Local Food, Get Involved, Stories, Traverse City

Are you ready to experience a culinary adventure like no other and enjoy fresh produce created in the backyard of northern Michigan? TC Community Garden is hosting a series of local dinners this Summer that will give you the opportunity to enjoy a communal dinner with friends in a community garden, enjoy produce that is grown by community members, and take a garden tour!

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Celebrate the Kick-off of Asparagus Season in Empire

Bailey Samp, Event, farm-to-table, Find Local Food, Food Waste, Get Involved

Did you know that May is National Asparagus month? If you are anything like me, you can’t wait for the first asparagus spears to start nudging their way through the soil. It is one of the first Spring vegetables to be harvested and a kick-off to the growing season in Northern Michigan.

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Local Shade of Pale

Drinks, farm-to-table, Find Local Food, Simon Joseph, Specialty Producers, Traverse City

Food Philosophy
I personally think it is not only important for us to use as much locally produced food and products as possible, but we also have a responsibility to be good partners with all food businesses in the area. It helps elevate the whole industry in a way that benefits us beyond dollars. Eating local should be looked at as the norm, not the exception.

Drink Local
When we re-opened Harvest in its new location in 2017, we also added a liquor license and one of our first priorities was to source beer and cider from local producers. That led to the idea of having a beer brewed specifically for us. It only made sense that we would take the idea as far as we could by then brewing the beer with local malt and hops. Because of the amazing relationships in the food and brewing community in Traverse City this was not a tall order. Working with Earthen Ales, Great Lakes Malting, and Michigan Hop Alliance we were able to brew a beer that is almost entirely made out of locally sourced ingredients, aptly named Local Shade of Pale. It’s really amazing to think of how far and fast the brewing culture has come in just a few short years. We feel so fortunate to not only enjoy the work of these great folks but also to be able to collaborate with them to create something that exemplifies our common goals.

Q&A with our Partners
Michigan Hop Alliance
Brian Tennis, FounderBrian Tennis Michigan Hop Alliance

Established: Michigan Hop Alliance was started 7 years ago as a way for hop farmers to work together to bring their hops to the brewing community as economically as possible. New Mission Organics was started 13 years ago, and has been growing hops for 10 years. New Mission Organics was the original farm name.

What makes Northern Michigan hops unique and great?
The 45th Parallel has historically been the sweet spot for growing hops, both in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. We have the perfect climate, including soil, water, heat, and day lengths, to be able to grow a world-class product. We are also lucky to be able to work with some of the best farmers in Michigan, and can leverage their knowledge and expertise to our overall farming operation.  

What does it mean to you to be involved in brewing a beer for a local restaurant with local brewers and local malt providers with your local hops?
We have been growing hops for nearly a decade, and have sold over a million pounds of hops over the years, but there is still something that is so very special and rewarding as tasting a beer that was made from hops that you had a hand in. To me, that excitement never gets old. These brewers and restaurateurs are not just accounts, but my friends, and I share their passion. My very first commercial sale was to Short’s Brewing Company and was used in a harvest ale called Kind Ale. I still remember the very first time I saw our hopyard name up on the chalkboard in Bellaire and the rush I had from tasting that beer. That proud moment doesn’t leave you.

Great Lakes Malting Company
Jeff Malkiewicz, President & Co-Founder

TLD.GLMC-8Established: Great Lakes Malting Company has been crafting great malt from the Great Lakes since 2016, with the mission of producing the finest malts right here in Traverse City and connecting breweries and distilleries to the region with locally-grown and processed ingredients.

Why do you believe in locally sourcing barley?
The answer is two-fold, economic and sustainability. When brewers/distillers use locally grown and processed ingredients, all of that money stays in the community and is re-invested in the community. Also, sourcing locally reduces carbon footprint through reduced transport. Most ingredients that are currently being used by breweries and distilleries come from the Western US/Western Canada and from overseas.

Describe your relationships with local farmers.
One of the things I enjoy most about this opportunity is my interaction with farmers. After all, quality malt starts at the farm. We can’t produce the finest malts without the finest grains! I have spent a lot of time working with farmers and educating them to help ensure their success in growing malting-grade barley. However, farming is not always easy and sometimes difficult conversations take place. This is where mutual trust and respect are critical to maintaining and growing these relationships.

Earthen Ales
Jamie Kidwell-Brix, Co-Founder/Brewer

earthenales brew dayEstablished: Earthen Ales opened its doors in December 2016. Owners Andrew and Jamie started Earthen Ales because they love making beer.They were both brewing before they met each other, and when they met and started brewing together – it got out of control, and Earthen Ales was born!

What makes Northern Michigan beer unique and why is using locally sourced ingredients important to you?
The agricultural diversity of the region and access to fresh, clean water makes northern Michigan a great place to make beer. The abundance of ingredients and resources in the area have led to strong and creative food and beverage community; we love being a piece of that community, and hope we’ll contribute to making it even stronger. We used to work in the sustainability field in our former day jobs, and we’ve carried this mindset into brewing. We brew beer with a sense of place, and we’re inspired by the place we live. What better way to showcase this then working with ingredients that are native to this place.

What does it mean to you to be involved in brewing a beer for a local restaurant with local hops providers and local malt providers?
Brewing beer for a restaurant like Harvest is a new extension of our community. We’re excited that Harvest embraces the use of local ingredients daily and wanted to explore this further by collaborating on a beer with us. It’s great to align with other businesses on similar values and ideas. Harvest was excited and inspired by the diversity of new hops in the region, and was particularly excited about using a new varietal called Green Bastard – we’d never used this hop before. And guess what, we like making beer and trying new things too!

Local Shade of Pale is available on-tap at Harvest, Traverse City, as of April 5th.

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Simon Joseph is the Owner/Managing Partner/Executive Chef of Roaming HarvestHarvestGaijinAlley’s Market . 

Photo Credits: Just In Time Hospitality and Brian Tennis of Michigan Hop Alliance

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Agro-Tourism Rises to Challenges

Andrew Schudlich, Economy, farm-to-table, Farmers Markets, Guest Post, Record-Eagle Ag Forum, Stories

Walk through any Leelanau County or Traverse City farmers market and it’s hard to miss how much things have grown. For the past 15 years, these markets and farm stands have been the source of produce and locally produced products for our business, Epicure Catering & Cherry Basket Farm.