Meet our crew with boots on the ground in Southern Michigan! Neil and Karey are our Local Food Coordinators in the Southwest and Southeast corners of the mitt, respectively. We’re thrilled to have these local food fans on our team! Want to know them a bit more? Read on!
Q: Describe your region in 3 words
Karey – Hardworking, Community-minded, Creative, Determined, Accessible
Neil – Industrious, Charismatic, Panoramic
Q: Your friends are in town. You haven’t seen them for months and they’ve never been to your area. Where do you take them?
Karey – In Southeast Michigan are the little towns just outside of Ann Arbor. Like Chelsea, where we could stop at Agricole Farm Stop to sip on some coffee, pick out a pastry, and peruse the fresh and premade offerings all from Michigan producers. If we had an itch to shop some more there is McPherson Local in Saline who offers 175 Michigan crafters and producers under one roof. And to satisfy my everlasting sweet tooth, The Vault: Sweets Marketplace, does just the trick housing Harvest Chocolate and five other confection creators!
Neil – As a recent transplant from Indiana, I’m learning so much about my new home! From Marshall, I’m only 15 minutes from Battle Creek, 45 minutes to Kalamazoo, and 90 minutes to Grand Rapids. So many fun places to go! A visit to my hometown farmer’s market in Marshall as well as the lovely markets in Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, and Texas Corners showcase a variety of local food in Southwest Michigan. A day spent in Grand Rapids enjoying the culinary delights of Cafe Mamo and Littlebird. Or spending a beach day in Berrien County enjoying the fermented goodness of Transient Artisan Ales, Ghost Isle Brewery, and River St. Joe. Don’t forget a nightcap of Journeyman Distillery Spirits.
Q: What is your Farmer’s Market and what do you love most about it?
Karey – Meridian Township Farmers Market. There is a sweet comradery amongst the vendors and the customers come with a smile on their face! Both vendors and fellow visitors to the market are always ready to share a recipe!
Neil – The Marshall Farmers Market is right off the main road downtown. It’s a close knit group of 25+ vendors that I love chatting with. Willow Garden’s CSA box is a must each week. Greener Grass Farms for quality meats, Norman’s Gourmet Garlic with 19 (and counting) varieties of garlic. Don’t forget Fluffy Butt Farms for coffee and bacon. It’s always nice to head home with a fresh bouquet of flowers for my love.
Q: How do you stay local throughout the seasons?
Karey – Seek out winter markets, CSA shares, and food hubs that source local!
Neil – I am always searching for local Michigan vendors at grocery and health food stores. Kalamazoo has People’s Food Co-op, Grand Rapids with Bridge St. Market. These locations are fantastic about supporting locally run businesses and giving them greater visibility.
Q: What else do you want folks to know about the local food scene in your region?
Karey – While you’re visiting some of the larger cities like Ann Arbor, Flint, and Lansing be sure to check out the small towns that are only a stone’s throw away and house some major stops. I’m lucky that so much of my region is filled with many shops and restaurants that are sourced locally– and still growing! And be sure to follow the places you visit and the producers in your area on their social media channels or sign up for their newsletter! It’s an easy way to support them and keeps you “in the know” of your local food scene!
Neil – Follow and support your local food producers! Many of them work so hard to create their products and struggle to find new ways to connect to customers beyond the farmers markets and social media. Talk with your local producer and ask them how you can spread the word about their products and services. These Michiganders are a wealth of knowledge of who is creating quality food in their area, and they can introduce you to some amazing tastes. When you find an incredible find, share the wealth!
Want to chat about Southern Michigan with Neil or Karey? Contact them below:
Neil Davey, Southwest Michigan Local Food Coordinator [email protected]
Karey Stid, Southeast Michigan Local Food Coordinator [email protected]