The Misty Acres Pasture Walk

Story by Maddy Baroli


The evening of the Misty Acres Pasture Walk was as gorgeous as autumn gets. As I pulled up to a rolling pasture dotted with stoic cattle and lined with glowing trees in all shades of yellow and red, I was impressed by the size of the crowd that had come to learn about this operation. The Misty Acres Farm is not your average cattle ranch; it is located just outside of Benzonia, Michigan on a nature preserve owned and managed by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy which operates it as an experiment in raising high-quality grass-fed beef.

Beginning Reflections

Story by Maddy Baroli

maddy-haley Early in my time here, Heather Ratliff, one of my supervisors and co-chair of the NWMI Food and Farming Network, explained something very essential to me, “In the national movement of food system change, the thing that sets Michigan apart from everywhere else is collaboration.  We have networks of networks. Northern Michigan is the heart of this statewide model, as the Northwest Michigan Food and Farming Network partners work together despite potential for competitionwe realize that we’re all working towards the same mission of reinventing a localized food system.” This sentiment really stuck with me. As the new Americorps VISTA for the network, it helped set the stage for my year of service catalyzing positive change within the food and farming community of this region.  

         A few weeks after this conversation, I experienced firsthand the commitment to collaboration that Heather spoke of. We had our first network meeting of the season, and I witnessed about twenty folks from a range of different organizations and backgrounds come together to share successes, goals, and opportunities within the food system. I was impressed when one woman presented a grant and specifically requested partners in the process, stating that she did not wish to exclude others from the potential funding. This sort of emphasis on the collective is at the heart of the Food and Farming Network, and creates strong and friendly bonds between members. Everyone seemed energized and motivated after the meeting, with various new ideas and tasks bred out of our meeting of the minds. Continue reading

Reaping What Farmers Have Sown

“Before the reward, there must be labor. You plant before you harvest. You sow in tears before you reap joy.” – Ralph Ransom

The abundance of northern Michigan’s many riches is never more apparent than now. The approaching fall demands that farmers set our tables with the literal fruits of their summer’s labor. Visit one of our local farmers markets and be ready for an impressive diversity of locally grown crops. Take a ride down any one of our scenic rural roads and pass by dozens of farms and roadside vegetable stands. Some, like Gallagher’s Farm Market on M72 or Friske’s on US 31, are full-fledged stores with professional staff. I dare you to leave either of these places without a full pie in hand and a smile on your face.

Continue reading

Value Added Producer Grant Workshop at Grow Benzie June 5


Contact: Betsy Evans

Alliance for Economic Success


For Immediate Release



MANISTEE AND BENZIE COUNTIES, MICHIGAN – If you produce or are thinking about producing your own sauces, dressings, jams, jellies, cider or other specialty products, you should consider attending the Food Producer Workshop on Friday, June 5, 2015. The workshop will be held from 12:30pm – 2:30pm at Grow Benzie, located at 5885 Frankfort Hwy (M115) in Benzonia, Michigan.

Bobbie Morrison from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Rural Development, will talk about the $30 million that is available to help agricultural producers create value-added food products from what they grow. One of the few grants in the nation directed at supporting private businesses, the grant offers dollar-for-dollar matching funds for planning or capital needs.

Wendy Wieland from the Michigan State University Product Center will share how the Product Center can assist food processors in developing and commercializing high value, consumer-responsive products. The Product Center unlocks the doors of the University’s vast technical, research, outreach and educational resources.

“This Food Producer Workshop is for people who are interested in or currently making food products from locally grown agricultural foods,” said Betsy Evans, Business Development Director for the Alliance for Economic Success.   “In addition to the presentations, we will dedicate all the time that is needed to talk about the specific interests and opportunities of those who attend.   These programs offer tremendous opportunities to develop and expand the horizon of our businesses involved with food production.” The Alliance for Economic Success is the organizer of the workshop working with Grow Benzie as a partner.

Questions about the workshop should be directed to Betsy Evans at 231-723-4325 or The Workshop is free and open to the general public.

FFN Meeting May 20, 2015 – Hosted By Cherry Capital Foods

Network Council Business Meeting Agenda

May 20, 2015   10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon

Cherry Capital Foods – 1610 Barlow Street

  1. Introductions
    • In Attendance: Bill Palladino, Tricia Phelps, Heather Ratliff, Meghan McDermott, Brian Bourdages
    • Via Video Conference: Sharron May, Wendy Wieland, Scott Smith, Helen Leithauser.
    • Newcomers: Les Hagaman – Father Fred Foundation looking forward to having a presence here. Stuart Campbell – Perennial Farm & Garden Nursery, business entity interested in connecting.

View the full meeting as recorded through our Zoom online meeting system here:

Download the full PDF document here: FFNMinutes_05_20_ 2015 or to read it online… Continue reading

FFN May Business Meeting Agenda

Once again, deep apologies for messing up the meeting invitation last week.  We’ve had a lot going on and I simply put the wrong date on the calendar.  Hopefully some of you will be able to make it or tune in Wednesday May 20th at 10 AM at Cherry Capital Foods. The address there is 1610 Barlow Street. The building is the large warehouse structure behind the building at the street’s edge.  See our calendar for instructions and a map.

It’s our last formal meeting of the year, with June lining up to be an informal pot-luck style gathering of some sort, then off for the summer.  After some scattered input from around the network I have also added a brief discussion item to plan a revisit of our Network’s mission, goals and objectives for 2016. There is some indication that the Good Food Charter connection is good, but not fully representative of current Network direction. We’ll put this on the floor to hear what you think.

Here’s the invite and the revised agenda.  Thanks for your patience and continued trust.


Topic: Food and Farming Network Meeting May 20 (10:00 AM – 11:30 AM)

Join from PC, Mac, iOS or Android:

Or join by phone:

+1 (415) 762-9988 or +1 (646) 568-7788 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 876 346 4532
International numbers available:

Proposed Agenda:
1.      Welcome and Introductions
2.      Grants Reporting

a.      New Grants Received
b.      New Grant Opportunities/ Opportunity to Collaborate

3.      New Website  (  Now a WordPress site.
4.      Project Task Force Reports

  • Introduction and reminder of task force roles
  • Standing Task Forces
    • FFN Overall Goal
      • 1. Farmers supply 20% of purchases
      • 2. Institutions source 20%
      • 3. Agri-business generation
      • 4. 100% access to ample, high-quality, healthy, and culturally diverse diet
      • 5. Farmland resources are available and affordable
    • Measurement
    • Summit
    • Recruitment / Outreach (Suggested New)
  • Other Reports from around the Network. (60 second updates)
  • Resetting Network Mission/Goals/Objectives for 2016  (Discussion)

5.    Scheduling

  • June – Potluck / Social Networking / End of the Year Event
  • Taking rest of July and August off.
  • Consider rescheduling meetings.  What’s the best week? Start back up in September.

6.    Other Relevant Business

7.    Adjourn  (Optional Tour of Cherry Capital Foods and/or Food Innovation Hub)

Winning Wines of Northern Michigan

Enjoy the best of Northern Michigan’s wineries next Wednesday, May 13th at North Central’s Iron Horse Café, starting at 5:30 PM.  Great wines, delicious food, a silent auction – and all to raise money for college students facing emergencies.  Ticket information below.  Hope to see you there!

For more information click on the invitation below or here.


Winning Wines

Great Lakes Bioneers Community Gathering May 12

Tuesday, May 12th at 7:00 PM at the Inside Out gallery, The Great Lakes Bioneers will present the video Plenary by Manuel Pastor, titled Transactions, Transformations, Translations: Movement-Building for the Next America. A discussion will follow the video presentation, led by FFN co-chair Bill Palladino.

Bioneers May 12 Event

Facing rapidly changing demographics, growing inequality and increased political polarization in the U.S., movement builders are grappling with creating new cross-generational ties and a new understanding of the relationship between equity and economic growth. Pastor is an expert on demographic change, economic inequality and community empowerment. Continue reading