Our Team

Taste the local difference

Taste the Local Difference® has its headquarters in Traverse City, Michigan.  Our small team covers the state with distinct roles.

Tricia Phelps - TLD Chief Executive Officer
Tricia is a driven leader and manager with experience in both the agriculture and business sides of the TLD business. She  is deeply involved in the Agricultural community of Northwest Michigan through her personal and business commitments.  Tricia also understands the demands of business and marketing through her three years of work with The Minervini Group, developers of The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, the largest mixed-use historic redevelopment project in the state. 
        Her skills in writing, communications, problem solving and database management give her the perfect foundation to support TLD's growing farm and business community.  During her 3 years serving as Operations Director, she managed the entire TLD operation in Northwest Michigan, from building and maintaining all the relationships that make this work possible, to playing a major role in planning the strategy for TLD's future. In fall 2017, she transitioned to CEO.
        Tricia is a fixture in the burgeoning food and farming community in the region.  She serves on the board of Bay Area Recycling for Charities (BARC), the advisory board of the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market in Traverse City, MI, and is an active member of the leadership team of the Northwest Michigan Food and Farming Network.  She hails from the city of Cary, IL and is a graduate of Michigan State University with a bachelor of arts from The Residential College of Arts & Humanities, and a Minor in Environmental Studies.  She is an avid photographer whose photographs can be found throughout this website. 

Emma Beauchamp- Communications Manager
Emma BeauchampEmma has a little bit of experience in many fields. Between Traverse City and Ann Arbor, she has worked on organic farms, in hot restaurant kitchens, overstocked retail shops, and foreign language libraries. One summer, she even worked in Juneau, AK where she spent the summer on the cruise ship docks as a whale watching tour representative.
        As communications manager, she organizes our two monthly newsletters, blog posts, and social media channels. Let us know if there is anything you would love promoted online!
        Emma is a Traverse City native and a graduate of the Residential College at the University of Michigan. She holds a degree in Cognitive Science with a focus on language and cognition, as well as a minor in French. When Emma isn't in the office, she enjoys going on adventures outside and trying new recipes with the delicious produce from her Fall CSA.

Bailey Samp- TLD Local Food Coordinator for NW Michigan
 Certified Local Food Events Manager

Bailey moved to Traverse City in 2007 and developed a deep love for Northern Michigan. She has spent winters traveling in Australia, regions of South America, and Central America. She is passionate about strengthening her community, creating awareness about local food, and cultivating close relationships that will help her become deeply connected within the food and farming community. Bailey has volunteered for non-profits involved with food access in Australia, volunteered and worked on sustainable farms, and is in the beginning stages of starting her own farm, Lakeview Hill Organic Farm in Leelanau County.
        With a Bachelor's  Degree in Business Administration, a background in event management, and passion for local food and farming, Bailey has a combined role. Her role entails working closely with retail stores, facilitating local food demonstrations, and working with event organizers to encourage local food sourcing. She will continue to create close relationships between event organizers and farms, and promote events that show a strong commitment to supporting the local food community.
        When not at work, Bailey enjoys hiking in beautiful Northern Michigan, traveling, cooking local food with friends, and building her new farm!

Molly Stepanski-TLD Local Food Coordinator for Northeastern Michigan 
Molly owns and operates Presque Isle Farm with her husband Dion, their son Sawyer, and two dogs Huck and Abe, in northern Michigan. In 2014, they transformed the family's hobby farm into a thriving market vegetable business and are now supplying free, local food to two school districts through Hoophouses for Health, in addition to selling their produce to NE Michigan restaurants, farmers markets, and groceries.
        Molly’s background runs the gamut and exemplifies her ardor for food, education, and the outdoors. She realized early on that her career needed to shift and reflect these loves after a short-lived foray into corporate America as a Disaster Recovery Analyst. She drastically altered her life’s trajectory and began working as an Outdoor Living Skills Program Director for a youth camp in the Virginia mountains and then went on to serve in Togo, West Africa with the Peace Corps as an Education Development Coordinator. Upon her return to the states, Molly moved to Montana to herd and lamb 1500+ sheep for a family ranch in the Little Belt Mountain Range for a season. Following her stint as a shepherd, she became a manager at the Good Food Store, Missoula's home for locally-produced, organic and bulk foods. She educated customers and employees on organic standards and nutrition and became infatuated with supporting and building healthy communities through food choices and education. 
       After several years in Montana, she moved to Portland, Oregon to attain her Masters in Education and then taught high school for several years in New Orleans, often centering her curriculum around food, the food system, and its impact on her students’ lives and the world at large. In 2014, Molly and her husband returned to his family farm in Posen to become the new stewards of a Centennial Farm and invigorate the thriving food network of the northeastern portion of the mitten. 
        In addition to owning and operating Presque Isle Farm, during the off-season Molly also works at Thunder Bay Winery in Alpena so she can continue to serve up some of Michigan’s local bounty! Molly's mission is to grow nourishing food, a healthy community, a vibrant local economy, a restorative environmental system, and a happy family.  

 

Melissa Orzechowski -TLD Local Food Coordinator for the Upper Peninsula

​Although not a born-and-raised Yooper, Melissa has lived in the Upper Peninsula long enough to call it home. 
Melissa first moved to the UP to attend Northern Michigan University. There she earned degrees in environmental studies, communication studies, and English writing. 
        In addition to working for Taste the Local Difference, Melissa also farms at Seeds and Spores Family Farm outside of Marquette. 
        Melissa is Passionate about helping local food system members spread their stories and appreciates developing meaningful relationships with those in our local food community.

 

Kelly Wilson, RD - TLD Local Food Coordinator for Southeastern Michigan

Kelly is a registered dietitian with her own personal nutrition coaching business, Taste of Health Nutrition (Ortonville, MI). She is also a sustainable farmer who operates Simple Gifts Farm (Oxford, MI).

       She is passionate about strengthening Michigan’s local food economy through robust relationships and using real food to help individuals achieve their health goals. She comes to TLD after working at Michigan State University’s Student Organic Farm.

 

Paula Martin, MS, RDN, LDN - TLD Community Health Coordinator
Paula Martin is a registered dietitian nutritionist focusing on public health. She has grown her practice to include the interactions between wellness with the built environment, and ecological systems. Prior to joining Taste the Local Difference, she was a Food and Farming Fellow at the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities and served as a Director of Health Promotion Programs at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. ​ 
       In her role as our Community Health Coordinator, Paula will be facilitating the Building Healthy Communities Grant. This program supports food retailers, local businesses and healthcare centers create plans to make healthy and local food choices the easiest choice.  In addition, she will be providing support for community supported agriculture (CSA) wellness programs for Northwestern Michigan. 
        Paula now calls Traverse City her home and enjoys spending time exploring the culinary delights this beautiful region has to offer. 

 

Christina Carson - TLD Retail Support and Photographer
Christina CarsonChristina brings a diverse background of experience throughout the food system to her work TLD. Since her graduation from The University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment, Christina has worked on farms and with artisan food businesses, managed farmers markets, taught cooking and gardening classes to youth, and worked with schools, farms, and local food businesses to coordinate school fundraisers featuring healthy local products. 
        You'll be seeing Christina in our retail partner stores helping to demonstrate the amazing tastes of locally grown and produced foods. She's also an accomplished photographer with a passion for food.  So you may see her wielding a camera dangerously close to culinary works of art, a farmer's field, or the farmer herself.
        In addition to her work with TLD, Christina runs her own business (Toot Sweet) and writes for The Awesome Mitten. Toot Sweet offers a full line of photography services with a focus on food photography and hosts a lively blog of locally-focused recipes.  Contact her via her website at tootsweetness.com