Sam and Madelina’s Northern MI Local Loves

Allow us to introduce you to Sam Samson-Miller and Madelina DiLisi, two of our newest Local Food Coordinators hailing from Alpena and Hancock, respectively. In addition to forming partnerships with local food businesses in their regions, both have additional roles with food access programs and initiatives in their areas. As the Program Ambassador with the Double Up Food Bucks program, Sam provides community outreach and education for participating and potential grocery stores and farmers markets in northeast Michigan in order to increase food accessibility. Madelina supports Farm to School outreach in the UP, connecting producers with school food directors to bring fresh produce to local schools. Here, we provide you with a window into their appreciation for the UP and northeast Michigan in addition to giving you the opportunity to get to know them a little better.

Describe your region in 3 words.

SSM: Natureful, cozy, quaint.

MD: Pristine, underrated, abundant.

Okay, 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?

SSM: If it was during the summer, I would take them to The Fresh Palate for their Sunday Brunch which they only serve in the summer and one or two times during the holiday season. Also, I would take them to Pedal & Paddle Rentals to rent kayaks and take them on the Thunder Bay River. For a night time adventure, we would go to Rockport State Park (which is also a dark sky reserve) to go stargazing. I also love taking people to Norway Ridge for a hike in the woods. Oh, and the Hungry Hippie for lunch! Their food bowls are amazing! In the winter, I would take them snowshoeing at Norway Ridge.

MD: The first thing I do when friends are in town is take them out for pizza at Milly’s! It’s the best pizza in the UP, but quite possibly the entire country. After my friends are well fed, I like to show off our pristine hiking trails along the coast of Lake Superior. There’s so much for outdoor lovers from kayaking the Portage, hiking Mt. Baldy, exploring the gorgeous waterfalls in the area, or taking a drive up Brockway Mountain. We usually end the day with a drink on the patio at Gino’s or walk the lift bridge over to Keweenaw Brewing Company! There’s never a dull moment & anyone who visits always comes back for more!

Imagine it’s summertime and you’re in charge of the tomato sandwiches. You need some bread and tomatoes right away. What farmers market are you headed to? Tell me a little bit about it. 

SSM: The Alpena Farmers’ Market set up right on the shores of lake huron both in the summer & winter 

MD: The Calumet Farmers’ Market, which is nestled in downtown Calumet. I had the privilege of being the Market Manager last summer & got to know the amazing farmers and food producers that make our local food community so rich. You can always catch me leaving with a handful of tomatoes from the wonderful folks at North Harvest CSABoersma Family Roots, or Whispering Wild Market Farm

Those sound incredible! Since we’re in the middle of a Michigan winter, how do you stay excited about local food when it’s not as readily available?

SSM: Dig into the stash of canned goodies from the summer harvest!

MD: There are so many restaurants and stores that still support and produce locally during the cold winter months! I eat seasonally with a variety of fresh mushrooms from Superior Mycology or squash and pumpkin that I’ve frozen from the market! I also enjoy sipping on locally brewed Kombucha from Superior Culture year round!

What else do you want folks to know about the local food scene in your region? 

SSM: It’s small, but mighty, and has great potential. 

MD: Our area is truly abundant with local food, you just have to know where to look! 

Interested in connecting with our N MI Local Food Coordinators further?

Get to know Nadine, our Western Michigan Account Manager here.

Emily Row is the Content Creator at Taste the Local Difference.

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