In1890, Detroit was a place where a man could go to seek his fortune. Its boundaries were expanding, its population swelling. That’s the year wealthy factory owner Hazen S. Pingree was elected mayor.
An early October sun is setting over the storefronts of Joseph Campau Avenue in Hamtramck. It’s Friday night, and small groups of people filter casually into Peter Dalinowski’s permanent pop-up venue, (revolver). A few guests carry their own bottles of wine as they are seated family-style around candlelit wood block tables. It’s the first seating of the season after a brief summer hiatus, and the anticipation is palpable.
DETROIT – OCT. 19, 2017 – A new initiative to help burgeoning Michigan food business entrepreneurs boost production and growth is set to begin. FEAST, LLC, which stands for Food Entrepreneur Accelerator and Start Up Terminal, is a co-packing program, developed by Eastern Market Corp. (EMC), to help local food manufacturing companies grow more quickly.
Equipped with commercial kitchens and a food processing center, the 14,500 square foot facility is located at 26762 Michigan Ave. in Inkster. Licensed under Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and registered under the Food and Drug Administration, FEAST production will focus on acidified and shelf-stable food products.
“FEAST is a first step in Eastern Market Corp.’s program to accelerate food business in Michigan and will fill the current void that exists for food entrepreneurs looking to ramp up production and move their business to the next stage,” said Mike DiBernardo, Director Food Innovation Programs for Eastern Market Corp. “Developing and supporting programs like FEAST which will grow the food system and increase economic opportunities in the region is a key part to Eastern Market Corporation’s strategic plan.”
The building was donated to EMC by Garden Fresh Gourmet founder, Jack Aronson, who has collaborated with EMC long-term to develop ways to grow food processing in the region. FEAST, operating as a private LLC, is co-owned by founders of three established local food companies, Marcia Nodel and her daughter-in-law Michal Nodel of Marcia’s Munchies, Scott and Suzi Owens of Scotty O’Hotty and Amit Makhecha of M&R Ventures. A loan from Northern Initiatives’ Michigan Good Food Fund helped to secure equipment.
“We’re proud to carry on Detroit’s lengthy and legendary manufacturing history in this new venture,” said Scott Owens. “Each of the FEAST co-owners have created business and met challenges along the way to grow and expand. We’re beyond thrilled to be using even more local resources and expanding our state-of-the-art manufacturing process to feed and employ more people.”
In addition to meeting their own production needs, FEAST will provide small and mid-sized food companies in Southeast Michigan with co-packing services. Recipe development, cooperative buying, and private labeling production will also be services offered by FEAST.
FEAST will create six full-time positions. For more information, visit FeastDetroit.com.
About FEAST Detroit
FEAST Detroit offers exceptional co-packing services to growing food businesses in its 14,500 square foot specialty food manufacturing facility. It is licensed as an acidified food processor and concentrates on the production of shelf stable products utilizing local supply chains. FEAST is licensed by the Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development (MDARD) and registered through the FDA. For more information please visit FeastDetroit.com.
About Eastern Market Corporation
Eastern Market Corporation (EMC) is the nonprofit that manages Eastern Market on behalf of the City of Detroit. Its vision is to create the most inclusive, resilient, and robust regional food hub in the United States and to ensure that Eastern Market nourishes Detroit — from food to art and commerce to culture. For more information, call 313.833.9300, visit our website at EasternMarket.com and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter.
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Michigan’s growing season is frustratingly short. But at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, “We’re a booming market all year round,” says Robin Richardson, the market’s manager of event planning. “You can come to the market on any given Saturday and buy a tomato.”
It’s a typical Thursday morning, and Detroit Public Schools’ Office of School Nutrition Executive Chef Kevin Frank is chopping carrots and celery for a school catering event, directing staff on lunch prep and coordinating with vendors to place orders and schedule deliveries. All the while, he’s thinking ahead to what he’ll serve on next month’s menu.
For the last four years, Cary Junior has been working to create a market for a small group of black farmers not far from Detroit’s city center.
As general manager of the Southeast Michigan Producers Association, or SEMPA, Junior has been leading an effort to build the capacity of these farmers and get their greens, tomatoes, corn, squash and other vegetables into the hands of fellow Detroiters who lack access to healthy, fresh local food.
Late on a Sunday afternoon in Detroit’s West Village, lazy brunch-goers cozy up to mugs of organic coffee and dirty chai. It’s frigid outside, but inside Detroit Vegan Soul patrons are toasty as they linger over stacks of sweet potato pancakes and plates of “catfish tofu” with black-eyed peas and collard greens.
-by Bill Palladino (Bill Palladino is Senior Policy Specialist for the Michigan Land Use Institute)
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine our Great Lakes state, from Detroit to the Sault, and across the U.P. to Ironwood. We’re a big, proud, two-handed state. For an entire century we’ve been known for greatness, and the one proud thing to rule them all is the great American automobile. It started here, innovated here, and is still struggling to reemerge here. Remember Chrysler’s Super Bowl ad, “I got a question for you, what does this city know about Luxury?”
As you stroll through your own town each day, look at the streets. If they’re like mine they’re lined one upon another with big, glorious, American steel beasts, pickup trucks, SUVs, and big old sedans. Sure, there’s a growing infestation of smaller, more svelte Asian and European invaders, but Michigan lives by its“Big Three,” and for these we’ll fight to the death. Just up the block from me is Hagerty Insurance, where there’s always a brightly polished reminder of better days on display. These Fords and Chryslers and GMs all harken back to a time when tires came from rubber trees and steel was hacked from the Earth by Yoopers singing Woody Guthrie songs. We’re proud of this heritage. Our fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers labored to provide Michigan this great story. Are you singing “This Land is Our Land” yet?
Now, imagine if you will a time when we walk down these same streets and the tables are turned. Instead of mostly American made cars, the parking lots are filled with 95 percent imports, with only a small smattering here and there of the American breeds. For whatever reason, Michiganders are happy to ignore our homegrown brands. How might it make you feel that all this great American genius was pushed to the wayside? How would it effect the emotional state of that relative of yours who once worked for GM? How would our economy be impacted? Are you angry yet? O.K., now take a breath.
What if this economic and social catastrophe had already occurred but in another sector of the economy? What if we as consumers had already turned our backs? Well we have, and I’m talking about our local food economy. The story’s the same , and so is the cast of characters: hard-working, values-based, dirt-under-the-fingernails pioneers. But there are no rock stars pumping their fists to regenerate the lost economy of locally grown food. Neither Kid Rock, nor Clint Eastwood, has ever pitched ads for Bardenhagen apples or American Spoon jam.
Go to your favorite grocery store and look at the shelves. Where is the locally grown food? Oh, it’s there, but it’s buried behind an insipid blur of commodity-scaled products with glitzy labels and expensive ad campaigns. Why is it so difficult to find local produce here during the first week of October, when bin-fuls from Washington, California, New York, and Mexico are plentiful? Why, when we live in the second most diverse agricultural state in the U.S., do we struggle to buy the very products that are grown virtually in our own backyards? The answer of course is a complex one.
Many of us in northwest Michigan are tired of waiting for the right answer. We’re about to go out on a limb and try something on our own, something new. Over the next few months we’ll be testing a series of marketing strategies to help sell more locally grown food from Manistee to the straights of Mackinac. You’ll be seeing a new brand emerge in your local grocery stores, starting with Tom’s Food Markets and then spreading outward. The Taste the Local Difference (TLD) name and logo will soon begin to appear on your grocer’s shelves to help differentiate local products from the mass of others crowding them out.
Imagine a day when you look down the aisles at your neighborhood grocery store, and at a glance know which products were grown or made here. This vision is part of our strategy to get northwest Michigan farms to provide 20% of all the region’s food by the year 2020. I can see the TV ad now. It’s being voiced-over by Eminem. As the camera moves in slowly filling the screen with images of swaying green fields and orchards, you can hear the proud angst in his voice as he says, “This is northwest Michigan, and this is what we do.”