It’s already snowed here in the U.P. a handful of times. The farmers markets have closed down until next year or retreated inside, but that doesn’t mean the season for eating locally has ended. It is possible to enjoy local food year-round, even in the U.P. The Marq, a restaurant and bar in Marquette, is a working testament.
When a small group of individuals driven by the idea of bringing a farmers market to Les Cheneaux first met, they envisioned a Friday night tourist attraction in the summers, and were able to secure an economic development grant from the Les Cheneaux Community Foundation to jumpstart the market. They didn’t expect such a strong community response that the market could go year-round. The market— now on Sundays— has become a vibrant attraction and business incubator in the Les Cheneaux community. Farmers and makers alike have found the market is a vehicle for expanding sales, fine tuning products, and even launching “bricks and mortar” businesses.
Connecting chefs, farmers, and the community as well as celebrating Northern Michigan University’s Hospitality Management program is what the Hospitality Gala on Sept. 23 is all about. Chefs and students currently in the program are teaming up to bring eight stations featuring food from farms in the Marquette area.
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.
Stepping into The Flying Moose, in downtown Marquette, feels like what stepping into a store probably felt like 100 years ago, except now there is kombucha on tap. The shelves are filled with spices, wines, syrups, and skateboards.
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.
As spring unfolds in the Upper Peninsula, seedlings have been growing in hoop houses, greenhouses and now fields to prepare for the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market opening day on May 20th. Many farmers markets in the UP do not open until June or even July, but Myra Zyburt, the market manager, explained they are able to open in May because there are enough farmers using season extension techniques that have produce that they are ready to sell.
Partridge Creek Farms is celebrating Earth Day on Saturday, April 22 by building 50 raised beds across downtown Ishpeming. But they aren’t doing it alone. More than 70 volunteers are coming from across the Upper Peninsula to help as everything at Partridge Creek Farms is a community effort.