Long-time Milan, Michigan farmers, Vicki and Tom Zilke, know how to grow good food. Turns out, they also know how to cook. Since June 2018 when Zilke Farm Kitchen opened for business, Vicki has been creating simple home-cooked meal kits and prepared food in Milan’s new retail space.
Walking through one of the six Tom’s Food Markets locations in Northwest Michigan, you will find the produce section is piled high with best of the season. During the harvest season, displays are piled high with sweet corn, pints of sweet cherries, bushels of Bardenhagen Farms apples, and local squashes. However, Tom’s Food Markets is proudly dedicated to supporting local producers all year long, not just during the peak of summer.
In 1946, Tom and Eva Deering founded Deering’s Market on 11th St in Traverse City. Originally, it served as a small corner market specializing in meat products near downtown. Fifteen years later, in 1961, Tom’s Food Market’s first full sized grocery store was built on the west side of town. Since then, Tom’s Food Markets has grown into six full size grocery stores throughout the region. Despite their expansion, Tom’s has continued its focus on supporting the Traverse City area community.
Michigan winters, particularly those here in the UP region, don’t allow for much production. Even those individuals who have been able to bridge the gap with season extension find themselves unable to do much in the blistering months of January and February. So, what are our local farmers up to at times like these? Catching up on the Netflix binging they missed? Creating sleep patterns that almost replicate those of hibernation? Read books by the fire, hot chocolate in hand?
Looking for a way to shop local this holiday season? Check out our holiday gift guide and support Michigan producers and growers this season.
During this time of year, The Local Grocer is a squash wonderland!
Community can often be a word people just toss around, but when the community literally owns your business, there is no taking it lightly. Oryana Community Co-op was an idea devised on the back porch of a home in Traverse City. It came from a small group of passionate community members looking to start a buying club and have control over where their food came from. That buying club started in 1973, and is now a 10,000 square foot, $17 million-a-year business that still lives by the founding principles of quality, accountability, sustainability, and localism.
For locals, Foods For Living is a landmark. Maybe they come in for the Lansing area’s only all-organic produce section, the coffee samples, and the friendly staff. (We’d like to think it’s the latter, if we’re being honest. And we are. That’s another reason people keep coming back, probably—honesty.) Perhaps they come for our massive supplement section, and the vitamin and herb experts who run it. Many just come for the live music and the freshly-prepared deli food. Where else can you reliably get amazing carrot cake and listen to some bluegrass on lunch? Regardless of what brings them through the door, they’ve been coming for twenty years, and we are so, so humbled and grateful to be celebrating with our East Lansing family.
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.