I’ll admit, I have a lot to learn about the Western Upper Penisula’s local food system. My connections there have been growing and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people. They are the ones clearing a path and leading the way in both research and action.
On Saturday, March 16th, I presented My Local Food Relationship at Northern Michigan University’s TEDx. (Editor’s note: link to video is coming soon!)
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!
Pollinators may appear small, but they have a massive impact in our ecosystem. These buzzing bees and native pollinators are a necessary, yet often forgotten, component of our food system. When habitat needs are met, these fundamental creatures can produce the fruits we love, and many of the seeds that provide our nourishing foods. We need their help as much as they need ours. Given the significant decline in bee populations, it is a crucial time for farms to create healthy habitats, food, and refuge for our pollinators.
Maple syrup production is a strong aspect of the history of the Alcona FFA chapter. However, it wasn’t until 2005 through 2007 that the Alcona FFA chapter wrote grants to build their own maple syrup production facility for pure Michigan maple syrup at Alcona Community High School. This dream came true; and in 2007, we built what was to become the Alcona FFA Sugar Shack. The Sugar Shack was added to a log cabin previously existing on our school’s property. Since the spring of 2009, we have hosted Maple Syrup Celebration Day at our facility – and this spring will be no different –marking the 10th Anniversary of this event!
This summer, I was the catering manager for Rock River Farm, a flower farm in the central U.P. They are focusing their efforts on flower production, so they don’t need my services in 2019. After being asked a few times if I’m sad they are done catering, here’s the truth: I’m stoked to see farms find their niche. This said, I will be going back next summer in the same way I got started there: as a volunteer who is in it for the beautiful drive, lack of cell service, the company and inspiration they provide.
Conference season is upon us! With so many food and farming conferences between now and March, it’s often difficult to decide which to attend. If you’re free February 9th, I’d highly recommend attending the Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) 16th annual Michigan Family Farms Conference. This conference provides beginning, small-scale, and culturally diverse farmers a chance to network and learn. At past conferences, I shared conversation with other small-scale farmers, learned new skills from talented presenters, and left energized and motivated for another season of farming.
Looking for the perfect last-minute local gift idea? A cooking class makes a great gift and offers a hands on experience to improve skills in the kitchen, learn something new, and supports local producers throughout northern Michigan. Whether you want to plan a family event or treat your kids to something sweet, these classes offer something for everyone!
Being the second most diverse agricultural producer in the nation, Michigan has no shortage of specialty crops. In fact, lake effect microclimates are generally the most ideal for growing cherries, apples, and other stone fruits you’ve seen bolstering the economy of northwest Michigan for decades. However, over the years, young people have relocated from Northeast Michigan, family farms have gone corporate, and jobs have disappeared. The Huron Shores Local Food Coalition wants to bring the community together to overcome the obstacles in place and restore the prosperity to Northeast Michigan.
Come on down to the Northeast Michigan Alcona Regional Farm Conference! On January 18-19, this conference will bring together seasoned growers, as well as those starting a new career in agriculture and members of the local food movement of the region. Get your farm business growing for 2019!