Demystifying NE Michigan Food & Farming Entrepreneurship

Agriculture, Economy, Find Local Food, Jobs, Molly Stepanski, Specialty Producers

The Northeast Michigan Council of Governments (NEMCOG) has been instrumental in facilitating Taste the Local Difference’s growth in NE Michigan over the last three years. This has ultimately resulted in not only building higher demand for local food in the region, but in people realizing the true potential of Sunrise Side ingenuity and innovation. This entrepreneurship is a key factor for the survival of small-scale farming and healthy local food systems in an ever-changing and increasingly complex global economy. 

Feed the Need: In Search of Hunger Heroes!

Get Involved, Learn More, Molly Stepanski, Stories

In Michigan, 1,369,250 people are struggling with hunger – and of them, 345,130 are children. In fact, according to the Feeding America network’s 2017 study, people facing hunger in Michigan are estimated to report needing $652,838,000 more per year to meet their food needs.

Step Back in Time at the Island House Hotel

Benefit, Drinks, Find Local Food, Molly Stepanski, Wine

Since 1852, the historic Island House Hotel on Mackinac Island has housed guests coming ashore to the island. Today, it feels just like stepping back in time. With some of the most spectacular views of the harbor, the hotel is just a skip and a jump to downtown. That’s fortunate because motor traffic is banned on the island, so, walking, biking, and horse-drawn carriages are the preferred modes of transportation.

Eating Like a Local in Alpena, Part 2 of 3

Eat Local, Find Local Food, Molly Stepanski

With summer (finally) under way on the Sunrise Side, the quaint, small town of Alpena is abound with tourists seeking the best local food and libation experiences for that warm weather bucket list. Overlooking the beautiful Thunder Bay of Lake Huron, this city truly provides a warm and friendly port for all that visit. Luckily for the locals, they get to appreciate this city’s burgeoning food scene year-round.

In this second part of our three part series, I’ll detail some of the locals’ favorite haunts, so you can also find the best locally-sourced cuisine during your travels.  (See part 1 here.)

Eating Like a Local in Alpena, Part 1 of 3

Eat Local, Event, Farmers Markets, Find Local Food, Molly Stepanski

One of the best parts about traveling across the Mitt during the summer is discovering new, locally-sourced farmers markets, restaurants, breweries, wineries, and all the events in between! There’s one city in particular that keeps popping up on our radar, and for good reason. Located right on Lake Huron, the “Sanctuary of the Great Lakes,” Alpena offers countless shipwrecks to explore, 100 miles of hiking and biking trails, three Dark Sky Preserve Parks, seven lighthouses in the area to clamber, and over 300,000 acres of fishing and boating opportunities. You’d think it couldn’t get much better.

But with a growing local food scene beckoning growers and producers alike to this area, the cuisine competition is challenging chefs and event planners in the area to up their game and source more locally. We are doing a three part series on Alpena. Here you’ll find the best places to find your locally-sourced grub while you’re visiting this spectacular Lake Huron haunt during the height of the season.  

A 25th Anniversary Calls for Certification!

Event, Find Local Food, Molly Stepanski, Wine

The Sunrise Side Wine & Food Festival at Harrisville Harbor is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2019! Over 15 participating Michigan wineries, breweries, and cideries; homegrown music; a Local Artists Guild display; and local restaurants are representing at this event. It’s not surprising that the fest has decided to take it to the next local level by becoming a Certified Local Food Event this year.

The Cream of the Crop: Amish Country in NE Michigan

Dairy, Find Local Food, Molly Stepanski

Michigan has long been an epicenter of Amish settlement, with the first establishments dating back to 1895. Today, Michigan’s Amish population numbers approximately 11,000, with the state’s 86 church districts strewn over 35 communities across the state. One of the oldest of these settlements is in Mio, Oscoda County. Remnants of Mio’s logging industry left this land perforated by stumps. But, the original Amish community at Mio was founded in 1900 by Ohioan pioneers that used this to their advantage. According to historian David Luthy, “Few, if any settlements grew as rapidly as did the one in Oscoda County.” Luthy say this is because “local land agents attracted both Old Order Amish and more progressive Amish-Mennonites” to a region flushed with land available for $2-5/acre.

A Farmer’s Diary: Beginning Farmer Institute, Part 3

Event, Get Involved, Learn More, Molly Stepanski

Our third and final Beginning Farmer Institute (BFI) session took us to Washington state to talk business formation, business planning and long-term health, land tenure, credit, taxation, liability, regulatory compliance, farming cooperatives, and the logistics behind one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States. You think you know how to farm, start a small business, and market your product? Think again. This program will change your trajectory, and it has for our farm. Not to mention we now have a long list of reliable farmers/producers from around the country that can help us with our farming questions for life!

Deep Diving into Winter Cookbooks: Pulled Pork Shoulder in Black BBQ Sauce

Eat Local, Find Local Food, Molly Stepanski, Recipes

With January winding down, it looks like ice has encapsulated just about everything in northeast Michigan. All the greens on our farm are mostly done for the winter, except the rare occasion the sun peeks out from the clouds long enough to thaw a bit of hoophouse spinach. Storage potatoes and carrots have already begun to dwindle, and the familiar retreat indoors this time of year also translates into more one-on-one with new cookbooks, more opportunities to splatter and stain fresh pages with new and sometimes challenging creations.