Exciting changes are coming to Taste the Local Difference this year! First, we are pleased to announce two new employees in West Michigan. Second, we will publish one statewide Local Food Guide in 2020. These changes will allow us to better serve our partners throughout the state as well as residents and tourists to Michigan.
Every summer the The Little Fleet in downtown Traverse City incorporates the bounty of northern Michigan in their handcrafted cocktails and we love it! These creative and refreshing farmer’s market inspired cocktails highlight ingredients from local farms and orchards in our region.
This year, we’re excited to pair up with The Little Fleet to bring you fresh, local-inspired libations featuring different farms each month through Fall. You can follow @tastethelocaldifference for featured cocktails, spirits, recipes, and what’s in season at the farmers market.
Open Sky Organic Farm is a certified organic farm four miles from Cross Village, Michigan. Together, Sam and Susan Sharp produce a variety of flowers, herbs, and vegetables, including garlic, snap peas, and spring mix.
Sam and Susan put their roots down in Northern Michigan years ago because of their love for the land, seasonal changes, and the people. Susan says the pace of life up north just resonated with them. The two of them started farming several years ago while Susan was still teaching. She has since retired, and this is their third year farming their land near Cross Village. The 10-acre piece used to be an old fallow hay field, whose soil had been left stripped and in need of some TLC. Susan and Sam went to work building their soil and bringing life back to the property, and they now have four acres in production.
For the last 40 years, Edson Farms Natural Food Store has served Traverse City’s natural food needs. Now the store is bigger than ever with their recent expansion project. Their increased deli and local produce section contributes to their mission of supporting their community.
“With the expansion of product offerings and a more navigable store, we are a more viable option for shoppers looking for healthy food and quality supplements,” said Jessica Edson, owner of Edson Farms. “We are better able to serve the growing number of people in Traverse City looking for a full service health food store.”
You already eat, drink, and shop local, right? Today, I invite you to expand your locavore-ism to a new realm: Reading local. Specifically, reading The Orphan Daughter, the story of how two fragile souls – 11-year-old orphan Lucy Ortiz and her aunt, prickly empty- nester Jane McArdle — forge a family in the aftermath of tragedy. Set on Traverse City’s Old Mission Peninsula, it touches on themes of motherhood, finding home, resilience and forgiveness. Here’s why:
Nick is an adopted Michigander. After growing up in Colorado, Nick discovered a passion for food and farming at Deep Springs College. That passion eventually led him to Detroit, with its urban farms and an energetic food culture.
Before joining Taste the Local Difference, Nick operated the vegetable farm at Food Field for two seasons. His winters were spent flipping eggs on the breakfast grill at Rose’s Fine Food. He remains inspired by the espirit-de-corps of his local food community, and he’s glad to be able to serve farmers and small businesses in his current position.
If not at work, Nick is probably trying to start his 80-year-old Ford tractor. He hopes to keep it running long enough to establish his own farm, just outside of Detroit.
Nick Jones is Taste the Local Difference’s Newest Employee. He is the Local Food Coordinator for Detroit. Contact him at email@example.com
For me, food has always been a source of connection, a tool to communicate love, and a way to pass on family traditions. Some of my most vivid memories involve shared meals and many dishes are connected to specific loved ones in my mind. For example, my mom is chicken, rice, and carrots, whereas my dad is graham crackers dipped in milk. Apple pie and sharp cheddar cheese bring to mind my grandmother. The foods we made on our first date, kimchi and sauerkraut are my partner. These dishes provide comfort and a reminder to slow down.
Food has always been an important part of my life; however, it wasn’t until I studied abroad in Italy that I really fell in love. We toured a Parmigiano Reggiano facility, learned about Balsamico di Modena on a small family farm, and tasted traditionally cured prosciutto. Specifically, all the foods we encountered were part of a movement to preserve culturally significant foods and their traditional production practices: Slow Food.
Where are the young people? It’s a question I have been asked a lot this past year as Upper Peninsula Local Food Coordinator for Taste the Local Difference.
To get answers, I turned to an organization called 40 Below in Marquette County. The group was created in 2010 as a way for professionals under the age of 40 to come together through networking and professional development opportunities. The group hosts fun events, puts on conferences and encourages young adults to volunteer in the community.
The holidays are here and it is time to start the search for your real Christmas tree. The good news is, in Michigan you have several great options to choose from when looking for that perfect tree. Michigan growers produce a wide variety of tree species, in fact, more than any other state. When visiting a choose and cut farm or a retail lot, you may find trees that are soft to the touch like a Frasier Fir, blue in color like a Blue Spruce, or trees that smell like citrus called a Concolor Fir. So, whether you like a fir or a spruce, or and evergreen or citrus smell, we have you covered!
Our second session with the 2018-19 National Farmers Union’s (NFU) Beginning Farmer Institute (BFI) took us into the country’s heart of organic produce, the salad bowl of America, the sunny Salinas Valley, California. Again, we were the last to arrive late at night, and a bit jet-lagged. For the first day of training, we participated in a hands-on learning session, hosted in partnership with the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA), an organization dedicated to creating economic opportunity for limited-resource and aspiring organic farmers through land-based education. ALBA creates farming opportunities while providing education and demonstration of organic farming, conservation, and habitat restoration. About 35 farmers operate their small organic farm at ALBA on an annual basis.