In 2014, when I moved with my husband and son to my family’s Centennial Farm in Posen, Michigan, I never thought I would have such an extraordinary chance to impact the local food system in the place we call home. From the moment we arrived, other farmers took us in, mentored us, and shared vital information and resources. We knew that if Presque Isle Farm was going to truly succeed in this persnickety and often bitter climate, we had to not only extend our growing season, but continue to partner with others on every level imaginable to vitalize northeastern Michigan’s food system.
I remember as brand new farmers that year we first attended the Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference in Traverse City, and I couldn’t stop thinking “we’ll never get a hoophouse, we’ll never get a hoophouse.” But, thousands of pounds of vegetables and three hoophouses later, we’re growing free, healthy food for our district schools through Hoophouses for Health; we’re keeping people stocked with local veggies April through December in multiple markets. And our farm couldn’t have accomplished all this without the incredible alliances and collaboration that have been offered without hesitation along the way. We’ve had farmers devote full days to talking with us about what and how they grow, how to target markets, and the process of attaining organic certification; one farmer even connects us with new local customers each season! And I know firsthand, most farmers don’t have days to spend on much of anything besides, well, farming.
As a grower and gastronomist, I yearn to do the same; I want to reach out to other farmers, restaurants, retailers, farmers markets, and specialty producers to tap the potentiality of the local food movement that’s gained incredible momentum throughout the rest of the country. We just need a liaison in our region of the state to advocate for these partnerships and invigorate a thriving network so people can find local food wherever they shop. Thank goodness Taste the Local Difference (TLD) is expanding their footprint on the Sunrise Coast!
Well lo and behold, just like so many of the possibilities that have presented themselves to me thus far in NE Michigan, I connected with Tricia Phelps and Bill Palladino of TLD through a local farmer and the food network in the mitten that never seems to disappoint. And as the new Northeastern Michigan Local Food Coordinator for TLD, I can’t imagine a better way to support the possibility and vibrancy of my community while paying forward some of that generosity that’s gotten me this far.
Molly B. Stepanski owns and operates Presque Isle Farm with her husband Dion, their four year old son Sawyer, and their two dogs Huck and Abe in northern Michigan. In 2014, they transformed the family’s hobby farm into a thriving market vegetable business. Her mission is to grow nourishing food, a healthy community, a vibrant local economy, a restorative environmental system, and a happy family. Contact her at [email protected]