The 2018 Southeast Michigan Magazine Release Party was full of friendship and community. The Beer Garden at Cultivate Coffee & TapHouse was buzzing with bees enjoying the vegetable beds and friends from the local food community celebrating another year of hard work towards strengthening the local food system. I had the pleasure of speaking with someone who has been supporting local food in Southeast Michigan for more than 30 years, Corrine Sikorski, General Manager of the Ypsilanti Food Co-op, who agrees that TLD has really helped to create connections and build community among local food activists and supporters in this area.
Not only was this a great event for people passionate about local food to come together, but anyone who happened to be a customer at Cultivate that night as well. The event was open to everyone, so anyone could peruse the new TLD magazines spread out on the picnic tables, listen to Melvin Parson of We the People Growers Association talk about his journey to farming, or even talk with someone from the Washtenaw Food Policy Council about their valiant food justice efforts. It was also a perfect, cloudless June night to sip delicious cider from Tandem Ciders of Suttons Bay, MI, who donated $1 of every purchase to Food 4 Farmers, and listen to beautiful live jazz from Steve Somers & Crew.
What really made the event so special was celebrating the release of this new guide alongside its featured local food hero, Melvin Parson, founder of We the People Growers Association, It was an honor to be there to celebrate Melvin’s achievements because he is an extremely selfless man who is very passionate about growing food, as well as community, in and around the Ypsilanti area. Though his farming accomplishments and goals are impressive, it is his use of farming as asocial change agent, like his goal to hire previously incarcerated individuals, that really make him a true inspiration.
The event was a “great celebration of local food work and the local food guide,” as Washtenaw County Local Foods Coordinator, Jae Gerhart, put it. From those who may have wandered into Cultivate and heard about Taste the Local Difference for the first time that night, to dedicated local food advocates, a wonderful time was had by all.
Now, it’s back to work! Volunteer at a local farm, buy some greens at your local farmers market, and get involved in advocating for a more resilient local food system.
Thank you so much to the following businesses who provided food for the event:
- Argus Farm Stop
- Maiz Mexican Cantina
- El Harissa
- Ollie Food + Spirits
- The Brinery
- Ypsi Food Co-op
- Two Dolls Cookies (Proud Mitten Shared Kitchen)
- Cinnful Snacks (Proud Mitten Shared Kitchen)
- Spun Sugar Detroit (Proud Mitten Shared Kitchen)
- Peach and Honey Cake Bars (Proud Mitten Shared Kitchen)
- Calder Dairy
Rachel Lowry is Masters of Public Health Student at the University of Michigan.