Local harvests create a regional economy

by SARAH LUCASSarah Lucas: Local harvests create a regional economy

Or it means asparagus. Or it could mean strawberries, peaches and blueberries; corn; milk and beef, pork, honey and eggs, rhubarb, tomatoes, herbs, hops … the list goes on.

Despite our label as the Cherry Capital, the region’s food harvest clearly is more than one famed fruit. And not only are all of these things grown or produced here, they’re often canned, bottled, dried, baked, brewed and — perhaps most importantly — turned into ice cream. They’re sold at farm markets and restaurants, roadside stands, supermarkets and wineries. Thousands of visitors travel here every year at least in part to buy these products, visit wineries and farm markets, and eat and drink at restaurants, wineries and breweries that specialize in our local harvests.

The work that farmers and others do to market their harvest directly to consumers through processing or direct retail sales is known by many names: food innovation, agri-business or agricultural entrepreneurism, for starters. Whatever the term used, these activities contribute millions of dollars annually to the economy.

And they mean big opportunities for farm profitability, job creation and business expansion. Because demand for local food is growing, farms and businesses throughout the region are increasing their bottom line by marketing and selling their products directly to consumers or local retail outlets. The region is home to hundreds of farms that are successfully serving local markets, processing produce into “value-added” products like jam or pies, or offering tourist attractions like corn mazes or tasting rooms.

Access the rest of the June 26, 2016 article on the Record-Eagle website, here.

Interested in supporting local food economies or suppliers? Regional resources are available online at www.networksnorthwest.org/planning,  www.foodandfarmingnetwork.org, or www.tastethelocaldifference.org.

Sarah Lucas is regional planning department manager for Networks Northwest.

FFN awards grants to build northwest Michigan’s agricultural future

dollar-signThe Northwest Michigan Food and Farming Network (FFN) yesterday announced eight mini seed grants to organizations in the local food system. FFN’s partners at the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities and the Northsky Nonprofit Network provided funds for this program via Networks Northwest, the Regional Prosperity Initiative, and Rotary Charities.

“I congratulate the grant recipients for their creative projects which help the network accomplish its goals,” said FFN co-leader Bill Palladino. “These investments Continue reading

Food Rescue Works with Eastern Elementary Students to Reduce Food Waste

by Juliana Lisuk


Feeding America® estimates that in 2014, 14 percent of households in the United States were “food insecure”— they did not have access to a sufficient level of affordable and nutritious food. At the same time, 25 percent to 40 percent of all food grown, processed, and transported within the U.S. is never consumed.

Numerous organizations are taking action to capture the food that would otherwise go Continue reading

Tom’s Food Markets Commits to Local

toms_logoIt’s asparagus season and I recently noticed a Taste the Local Difference sign over the Tom’s East Bay display of this seasonal goodness. The asparagus was grown on the Lutz family farm in Kaleva. Turns out Tom’s has made a big commitment to buying locally grown produce for their five stores through direct relationships with farmers and local distributor Cherry Capital Foods. Continue reading

FFN Business Meeting Minutes – May 18, 2016

Business MeetingNorthwest Michigan Food and Farming Network (FFN) Business Meeting
May 18, 2016, 10:30-noon

In Attendance: Amanda Kik of Crosshatch, Brian Bourdages of Tamarack Holdings, Carol Danly of the Food and Farming Network, Elise Crafts of Networks Northwest, Heather Ratliff of Cherry Capital Foods, Juliana Lisuk of SEEDS, Kelly Lively of Cherry Capital Foods, Margaret Sheets of Taste the Local Difference, Meghan McDermott of Groundwork, Mollie Thomas of Crosshatch, Rick Gleason of Farm Bureau, Rod Robinson of Eaton B Goode, Sarah Eichberger of MSU-E (remote), Scott Smith of Local Food Alliance (remote), Sharron May of The May Farm (remote), Stephanie Cumper of FoodCorps, Steve Nance of Oryana, Tasha Lapinski of Baker College-Cadillac & consultant, Tricia Phelps of Taste the Local Difference, Val Stone of Northwest Food Coalition/Goodwill/Salvation Army, Wendy Wieland of MSU-E

⦁ Consider printing FFN business cards and postcards with meeting/action team/website info for use by active members. (carried over)
URGENT: Reach out to Dr. Benishek to let him know Continue reading

4/20 Study Session: Economic Development

Lakes to Land Assessment-Report-cover-791x1024Here is Sharron May’s Lakes to Land Regional Initiative: Farm and Food System Assessment presentation.~~~Our guest panelists were:

Sarah_LucasSarah Lucas, Networks Northwest Regional Planning Department Manager, sarahlucas@networksnorthwest.org, 231-929-5034

Betsy Evans, Alliance for Economic Success Business Development Director, betsy@allianceforeconomicsuccess.com

sharron mahSharron May, Lakes to Land Regional Initiative, themayfarm@gmail.com~~~Other links:

This is a draft document. Networks Northwest has not published it yet. ~~~
Information on the MSU website about Stronger Economies Together (S.E.T.) 
It does not seem to match what Betsy Evans said about the May 9 meeting.~~~

A follow-up to Wednesday’s Economic Development meeting. Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control the next S.E.T. meeting needs to be moved to Monday, May 9th from 1:00pm-4:00pm. Continue reading

NEW! Mini Seed-Grants for Collaborative Projects

dollar-signWelcome to our first round of the Mini Seed-Grants administered by the Northwest Michigan Food & Farming Network. Funds for this program have been provided by our partners at the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities via Networks Northwest and the Regional Prosperity Initiative.

These mini grants (maximum $2,000 from FFN and we will try to find someone to match for a total of $4,000) are designed Continue reading

FFN Business Meeting Minutes – Mar 16, 2016

Meeting Minutes IconNorthwest Michigan Food and Farming Network (FFN) Business Meeting
March 16, 2016, 10:30-noon

In Attendance: Amanda Kik, Bill Palladino, Brian Bourdages, Brian Matchett, Carol Danly, Hannah Fernando, Heather Ratliff, Kris Thomas, Mark Coe, Meghan McDermott, Mollie Thomas, Rick Gleason, Rod Robinson, Sarah Eichberger, Sharron May (remote), Steve Nance (remote),Tricia Phelps

⦁ Consider printing FFN business cards and postcards with meeting/action team/website info for use by active members.
⦁ Provide Sarah with contact information for farmers who have done farm to school successfully.
⦁ Suggest to Rick venues for 150 people that can showcase local food.

2015-16 MEETINGS:
1. April 20, 2016 (study session) – Topic will be economic development with an agricultural focus. There will be brief presentations of three reports on the state of northwest Michigan agriculture and a panel discussion follows. Panelists and presenters include representatives from Networks Northwest, Lakes to Land Initiative, SBDC, plus others (to be determined).
2. May 18, 2016 (business meeting)
3. June 15, 2016 – If you enjoyed the post-summit happy hour, you’ll love our end-of-the season celebration at the Grand Traverse Foodshed Alliance, 1st floor of the Cherry Capital Foods building. It will be a grand opening, of sorts, for the Foodshed Alliance! Details will be forthcoming. Continue reading

The State of Agriculture in Emmet and Charlevoix Counties–2015

Local Food Alliance lfa Logo-colorThe State of Agriculture in Emmet and Charlevoix Counties–2015 Prepared by:  Local Food Alliance of Northern Michigan

Increased attention given by people in our community to the food they eat and where it is grown is reinvigorating our region’s agriculture, countering trends in data from the U.S. Census of Agriculture which show declines in Emmet and Charlevoix Counties over the past 30 years. Statewide, agriculture is one of the top three growth sectors. A Michigan State University study estimated that the annual economic impact of agriculture has grown from $60 billion in 2006 to over $100 billion in 2015. Michigan has the highest diversity of agricultural products of any state except California; 81% of these products are grown in the 10-county Northwest Michigan region. The potential impact that agriculture can play in our community in the future— including on jobs, economic growth, and health—is exciting.

charlevoix emmet direct sales scotts reportProducts sold by Emmet County farmers directly to individuals increased from 3% of total market value to 18% between 2002 and 2012, the highest in Northwest Michigan. Families can buy more local produce directly at a farm, through Community Supported Agriculture, at a Farmers Market, or through home delivery. Our community has active Farmers Markets in Continue reading