coop before

Building a Co-op in Iron County

Economy, Find Local Food, Get Involved, Melissa Orzechowski, Retail

Darren Mercier didn’t imagine he’d be spearheading the effort to establish a natural food cooperative. But, when he moved to Iron River on the western border of the U.P. seven years ago, he and his wife missed the easy access to the healthy foods they were used to eating. The Merciers aren’t the only people in Iron River who want more healthy, organic, and local options. More than 50 people have already become members of The Co-op of Iron County before the doors have opened and many people have told Darren when the store is open, they plan to become members as well.

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 10.35.50 AM

Stone Coop Farm: Supporting the Next Generation of Farmers

Economy, Event, farm-to-table, Find Local Food, Get Involved, Kelly Wilson, Southeast Michigan, Stories

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.

Orchard Toot Sweet Photo

Not In My Back Forty – When Farmers and Neighbors Clash

Bill Palladino, Economy, Food Policy, Record-Eagle Ag Forum

A farmer I know, let’s call him John, is up late tonight in his orchard. As a Leelanau County farmer, his work requires vigilance. It’s been a wet summer so far, and that means there’s a virtual laboratory of bugs, molds, and fungi waiting to threaten his way of life.  Tonight, reluctantly, he sprays an insecticide to head off the codling moth hatch that’s sure to devastate his orchards.

There’s a break in the rain, and John’s training tells him he’s got the opening he needs. The wind dies down at night too, making it a lot less likely that what he’s spraying will end up on unintended fields. All of this information points to the fact that now is the time. John decides to follow this lead and get to work, but it happens to be midnight.

Argus Sunrise

Giving Back to the Farmers: Argus Farm Stop

Benefit, Economy, Find Local Food, Get Involved, Kelly Wilson, Retail, Southeast Michigan, Stories

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.

DSCN4083

Cherry Everything

Economy, Find Local Food, Guest Post, Julie Millen, Retail, Specialty Producers

When you step into Benjamin Twiggs, you are greeted with the most heavenly aroma… locally roasted Cherry Vanilla Coffee.. the coffee of the day. Your eyes are drawn to the wall of cherry products to your right. After a few steps, you are welcomed with a friendly hello by our staff… today it is Cindy.  She offers you a cup of that incredible coffee, and introduces you to our sample table. She will invite you to taste what is already laid out, and of course invite you to sample anything else you want to try.

bearcreek.cmm-7

Make sure your farm is counted! 2017 Census of Agriculture

Economy, Emma Beauchamp, Find Local Food, Learn More

Calling all farmers, new and old!

Be sure to register your farm with the 2017 Census of Agriculture before June 30th! 

This census occurs every 5 years and conducts a complete count of all US farms–including the smallest plots of land, rural or urban, as long as they raise or sell at least $1,000 worth of agricultural product during the census year.

What is this information used for? 

This information is used by the Census of Agriculture to influence Congress, agribusiness, policymakers, researchers, local governments and many others on the creation and funding of agricultural programs and services – decisions that can directly impact your local operations and the future of the agriculture industry for years to come.

The survey takes just a moment, so register your farm now: https://www.agcounts.usda.gov/legacy0/cgi-bin/counts

Emma Beauchamp is the Local Food Coordinator for NW Michigan and the Communications Manager for Taste the Local Difference. Contact her at emma@localdifference.org 

manton mill

MAHRG is Looking for a Partner

Economy, Farmers Markets, Find Local Food, Get Involved, Guest Post, Janice Heuer

 The Manton Area Heritage Restoration Group (MAHRG) hopes to partner with a business in need of space. This is a rare opportunity to lease a large, historic grain mill, full of rugged beauty (but in need of extensive repair.)

Seed Swap

Swapping animals, plants, seeds and ideas

Economy, Get Involved, Melissa Orzechowski, Specialty Producers, Stories

A truck with a bed of chicks and rabbits pulled into the back of the Holmquist Feedmill in the small town of Trenary, in the rural central Upper Peninsula. Connie from the Great Northern Poultry and Livestock Connection, directed the driver to back up into a ring of other vehicles with everything from fertilized peacock eggs to sheep.