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.

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March Study Session at the Father Fred Foundation

Story by Maddy Baroli

For the Network’s March study session, we took a trip to the Father Fred Foundation. Father Fred has been serving our region since 1989 and provides basic food, clothing, housing and financial assistance at no charge. With light staffing (six full-time and two part-time) and the help of 225 active volunteers, they can invest 93 cents of every dollar donated in guest services (wow!)

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The group explores Father Fred’s food pantry. An abundant fresh food section meant to imitate a farmer’s market is featured right where guests walk in.

Providing access to quality food has become a focal point at Father Fred. Operations Director Les Hagaman has been leading the way in promoting healthy food at their pantry— from educational signage and smart choices about what to stock, to an on-site vegetable garden originally planted by local Foodcorps members.

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Brian Bates’ Keynote Address: Part 3, Why Bother With Local?

Editor’s Note:
 
This is Part Three of a three-part series from farmer Brian Bates of Bear Creek Organic Farm in Petoskey, Michigan. This essay was delivered as part of his keynote address to attendees at the Northwest Michigan Food and Farming Network’s annual Farm Route to Prosperity Summit on February 17th of this year. 
 
In Part One: On Becoming A Farmer, Bates describes some of the influences in his life that led him to become an organic farmer.  In Part Two: Scale and Perspective, he details an eye-opening journey that took him to a variety of farms around the world, learning what he could about the differences that scale makes in farming practices. Here, Bates concludes with the reward he finds-and thinks we can all find- in contributing to and celebrating our rich local food system.

Part 3: Why Bother With Local?

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I think prosperity is defined by a community’s well-being. At Bear Creek, we are invested in our community and hopefully our community in us. We won’t relocate our factory tomorrow, and in the meantime, we shop locally, bank locally, insure locally, employ locally. We teach others how to grow, and we welcome strangers to our farm. We celebrate the deliciousness of our food, and we respond precisely to the needs of our community. Growing food 52 weeks of the year is not easy this far north, but it’s what our community craves. So we do it. We work to weave our business and our livelihood into the fabric of our community. And perhaps most incredibly, it only takes a small percentage of our community to sustain our business.

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Brian Bates’ Keynote Address: Part 2, Scale and Perspective

Editor’s Note:
 
This is Part Two of a three-part series from farmer Brian Bates of Bear Creek Organic Farm in Petoskey, Michigan. This essay was delivered as part of his keynote address to attendees at the Northwest Michigan Food and Farming Network’s annual Farm Route to Prosperity Summit on February 17th of this year. 
 
In Part One: On Becoming A Farmer, Bates describes some of the influences in his life that led him to become an organic farmer.  In this Part Two, he details an eye-opening journey that took him to a variety of farms around the world, learning what he could about the differences that scale makes in farming practices. And that, all in all, the farmers he worked with are not that different than him!

Part Two: Scale and Perspective

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We used to drive to the beach every year on the 4th of July and pass through the vast cornfields of Delaware. You may not have expected me to say Delaware, being that we’re in the Midwest, but at a certain scale, we become numb to the scale regardless of size – more on that later.

Here’s the thing.

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Brian Bates’ Keynote Address: Part 1, Becoming a Farmer

Part 1 of 3 excerpts from the Keynote Address that Brian Bates of Bear Creek Organic Farm presented at our 2017 Farm Route to Prosperity Summit. Stay tuned for more- Part 2 will be released on Friday!

So why am I here? I’m here to share a little about me, a little about our farm, a lot about our food system, why we’re screwed (just kidding!), and why I think small actions make a big difference.

First, a little about me. I am a DMV native (that’s DC, MD, VA) and I am gradually becoming OF Northern Michigan.

How many people saw Mr. Palladino’s awesome speech at the Small Farms Conference last month? The idea of being from somewhere, and OF somewhere has really stuck with me. I love it.

I moved to Petoskey 5 years ago. I’m 27 years old. And I’m obsessed with keeping things in perspective.

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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

Successful Season for Kalkaska Farmer’s Market and Call for Vendors

Story by Maddy Baroli

It was a beautiful summer for Kalkaska’s new series of farmer’s markets! A sunny stroll through Railroad Square on a Tuesday afternoon would greet community members with trinity-roseten unique vendors of local goods and produce, such as Trinity Rose Jams and Jellies, Shetler Dairy, Grand Traverse Culinary Oils and Flours, and Nev’R Done Farm.

The market ran weekly from May 24 through October 11, under the management of Mike Oosterhart and Cash Cook. It grew steadily in popularity as the months went on. Farm to Table ads that promoted the farmers market and local foods ran on WTCM FM and AM, and in The Voice newspaper. Grant funding provided to the LiveWell Kalkaska coalition from District Health Department #10 and the Northwest Michigan Chronic Disease Prevention Coalition paid for the ad campaign. Continue reading

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.

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