Kalkaska Food Summit: ‘The Importance of Local’

Story by Maddy Baroli

The Kalkaska Food Summit took place on Wednesday, March 15 at the Kalkaska Stonehouse— a hub for community events on the grounds of the Kalkaska Memorial Health Center. The Livewell Kalkaska coalition, a group of public health professionals, organized the event in collaboration with the Food and Farming Network.

Last spring, several substantial grants were awarded with funding through the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. District Health Department #10 (DHD 10) received the funds and administered them to local organizations with ideas on how to enable healthy lifestyles in the community. The grant recipients’ work was notable, and Kalkaska’s first food summit was created to shine a spotlight on their efforts.

kalkaska

Continue reading

2017 Chapman Award

For Immediate Release
Date: February 23rd, 2017
Contact: Bill Palladino bill@localdifference.org (877)562-2539 

2017 Chapman Award Presented to Shetler Family Dairy

Traverse City, MI: George and Sally Shetler, dairy farmers from Kalkaska, Michigan, were presented with the prestigious Chapman Award on Friday, February 17th.  The award, presented as part of the Food and Farming Network’s annual Farm Route to Prosperity Summit, is given each year to an individual or group that contributes to the advancement of agriculture in Northwest Michigan.

The Chapman Award is named after John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed. The dedication reads, “Given each year to the person that shows unerring dedication, enduring fortitude, and embodies the exceptional pioneering spirit that is remaking American agriculture right here in Northwest Michigan.”

Nominations for the Chapman Award are taken throughout the year. The leadership team of the Food and Farming Network selects the winner in time for their annual summit in February. The event features updates from a multitude of people working to enhance the vitality of local food and farming across the 10-county region. Every year since 2013, The Chapman Award has been presented at the conclusion of the summit.

At this year’s event, Bill Palladino co-chair of the Network, introduced the Shetlers as “…representing the clearest example of a new entrepreneurial agriculture necessary for the ongoing sustainability of the region’s food system. The Shetler’s leadership in farming, business, family and community has influenced thousands. There is no one more worthy of this award than George and Sally.”

The Shetler Family has been dairy farming in Kalkaska, Michigan since 1979, and has three generations living and working on their land. They practice a very hands-on managed grazing system and bottle and distribute their own milk to local stores in returnable glass bottles, along with butter and ice cream. The Shetler’s delicious and high-quality products reflect their passion for farming and their unique approach to business. In accepting the Chapman Award, George Shetler said, “Thank you for this honor, and we are also thankful for all the support of our loyal customers that believe in what we do.”

The Northwest Michigan Food and Farming Network is a volunteer organization, based in Traverse City that works year-round to advance the food system in Northwest Michigan. For information about the Chapman Award, the Shetler Family Dairy, or the Network, visit the website,www.foodandfarmingnetwork.org.

### 
The goal of the Northwest Michigan Food and Farming Network is to build Northwest Michigan’s agricultural future by identifying areas of need throughout the region’s food system and coordinating action to address them.
Our strength is in facilitating synergies and communicating among the many people and organizations already at work changing our regional food system.

Continue reading

I’m Lovin’ It: Kids Learn to Market Local Foods in Photography Class

Story by Maddy Baroli

eat-local-2Imagine a local carrot. It has more flavor than anything you’ll find on a supermarket shelf. It has a crunch factor that rivals Doritos. It’s as fresh as Prince and you can buy it at a reasonable price. So why do its industrially farmed counterparts tend to sell better? Of the many answers to this question, one is as clear as the liquid crystals in your television screen: marketing and advertising. Large food corporations have ample resources devoted to reaching a broad customer base with compelling ads and flashy packaging.

Local FoodCorps service member Lindsay Hall recently explored this topic in a lesson at Boyne Falls Public School. FoodCorps is a national nonprofit dedicated to connecting students with healthy foods through direct service in public classrooms. Service members provide hands-on lessons related to various aspects of our food system. Lindsay led high school photography students through a lesson with this central question: How is food marketed and what implications does this have on the products we buy and where they come from? Continue reading

Agriculture Forum: Affordable Housing Not Just a Downtown Problem

Story by Maddy Baroli

maddybaroliConsider the range of challenges to agriculture in our region. Invasive pest management? Sure. The daunting ripple effects of climate change? Certainly. But what about the lack of affordable housing for the people who make our regional food system tick? It’s not an issue most immediately associate with local agriculture.

In Traverse City, we have a strong tourist economy that attracts “foodies” and employs seasonal workers. We also have a permanent community that dedicates itself to creating a soulful and resilient regional food system.

This tension between transience and sustainability in our agricultural workforce, in addition to below-average wages, presents a conundrum that existing housing solutions fail to address. Continue reading

Sowing Seeds for the Future: The Potential for a Food and Farming Housing Cooperative

Story by Maddy Baroli

A cooperative living community of farm workers, food service employees, culinary students, agri-business entrepreneurs, and other local food and farming partners could address the intersection of several problems and potentials related to affordable housing in our region. This living community would be open to anyone involved in or serious about getting involved with local food work, and could help lay the foundation for a new generation of farmers.  Continue reading

The Misty Acres Pasture Walk

Story by Maddy Baroli

img_6297_2

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

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

Print

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