Excuse me if my writing feels a bit exhausted, walking fifteen miles uphill in two feet of snow, just to get wi-fi for this post has drained me.
Gottcha! It’s hard not to joke, but I am happy to report that I am actually warm in my home, with indoor plumbing and all. Although, we do have a generator because when the power goes out it is often for days, and my closest ‘neighbors’ (besides a plethora of deer camps) are over two miles away.
Greetings, my name is Alexandria Palzewicz, and I am beyond excited to be the new UP Local Food Coordinator! Besides a recent two-year excursion in Seattle, I have lived in the UP my whole life.
I joke about my rural hometown roots, but the truth is that besides a few large cities in the UP, most of our peninsula looks this way. A recent August article by Bridge Magazine talks about the plummeting population of the Upper Peninsula. In comparison to the whole state, the UP, which represents one-third of all the land in Michigan, holds just 3% of its population. The population above the bridge is now lower that it has ever been in over 100 years. Our economy, once fueled by mining and timber, suffers as mines close. The older community members pass on, and younger generations find it hard to stay in areas with sparse opportunities.
So, considering the above, why in the world did I leave the happy life I had created in Seattle to come back? One word, opportunity. Yes, above I talked about how many members of my generation have few options, but that’s because we need to create them, and many people already have.
I attended Northern Michigan University for Hospitality Management, a program that is an obvious contributing factor of the amazing restaurant scene exploding in Marquette. The farmer’s markets of our towns seem to have new vendors every week, and Partridge Creek Farm, an educational farm in Ishpeming, is the forefront of urban agriculture in the Upper Peninsula. Add this food movement to the natural beauty of the UP and you get one killer economic boost from tourism.
A dear farmer friend said to me that it is important for our generation to give back to our community. We cannot expect the area to change or grow unless we step up to the plate. I’m excited for my position here at Taste the Local Difference to allow me to do just that. My cool new job gives me a platform to help grow our local food scene, which benefits the economy, health and quality of life here the majestic UP, and most of all inspires the thing I personally love the most: delicious food.
Alex Palzewicz is the new Upper Peninsula Local Food Coordinator for Taste the Local Difference. In her youth, she proudly raised a market lamb for the annual UP State Fair, and was an active FFA member – roots that helped inspire her love for local food. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos taken at: Tickler Farm & Forest Products – Daggett, MI