Our Team

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 of 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 of Northwest Lower Michigan. 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.

Kelly Wilson, RDN- Director of Community Partners

Kelly came to food and farming work through her education as registered dietitian at the University of Minnesota. Finding the standard dietetics curriculum lacking food systems perspectives, she began using elective coursework to explore food production and its impact on public health. This led her to Italy where she studied Slow Food and fell in love with the power of real, whole food as a form of storytelling, a source of deep connection, and as an important tool for human and environmental health. After her time in Italy, Kelly furthered  her food systems education with an internship on a beef and small grain farm in central Minnesota. She spent her summer fixing fences, driving a tractor, baling hay and gaining a deep appreciation for the rigors of farm life.


Kelly worked in the field of dietetics in food service, health and wellness, and private practice before entering into food systems work. She took the leap in 2015 when she became the first registered dietitian to complete the Michigan State University Student Organic Farm's Organic Farmer Training Program. She remained at the Student Organic Farm as an assistant instructor in 2016 while simultaneously starting her own farm. In 2017, Kelly began working for TLD as a the SE Michigan Local Food Coordinator. She is currently TLD's Director of Community Partners.


Emma Beauchamp - Communications Manager

Emma has a little bit of experience in many fields, Between Traverse City, MI and Ann Arbor, MI, she has worked on organic farms, in hot restaurant kitchens, overstocked retail shops, and foreign language libraries. One summer, she even worked in Juneau, Alaska, 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, the TLD blog, and all social media channels. Let Emma know if there is anything you would like 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, with a minor in French Language and Literature. 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 Marketing Rep & Admin Assistant

Bailey moved to Traverse City in 2007 and immediately fell in love with Northern Michigan, the perfect spot for someone that enjoys spending the Winter traveling and Summer farming! She has visited Australia, many countries in South and Central America, and is always looking for new places to explore. Traveling has allowed Bailey to volunteer for non-profits involved with food access, volunteer on sustainable farms, enjoy foods from many cultures, and learn about local agriculture in different countries. 

She is passionate about cultivating a strong community and helping ensure that all community members have access to fresh, local, healthy food. She loves working with children and educating them about local food and farms, something she didn't experience as a child. 

Bailey has a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration, experience as an event planner, and owns Lakeview Hill Farm in Leelanau County with her partner John. As the NW Local Food Coordinator, she is continually working to learn about the needs of her community, helping partners get the most out of marketing, and educating consumers about local food. You can spot Bailey keeping the food local at community events, hosting a Pop-up Farmers Market in local schools, and promoting the Guide to Local Food at farmers' markets. 

When not at work, Bailey enjoys hiking the dunes, cooking, and preserving food. 

Kimberly Conaghan - TLD Local Food Coordinator for Northwest Michigan

Kimberly grew up in metro-Detroit and lived in Florida, Colorado, and downtown Detroit for before moving to Traverse City nearly a decade ago. She was drawn to northern Michigan because of its healthy lifestyle, abundance of gorgeous natural habitats, and connected communities.

After working in middle management in the food and beverage, retail and banking industries, she decided to pursue more personally fulfilling work in the non-profit sector. While running northern Michigan’s largest community garden for the past four years, she became deeply connected to building a more resilient local community, localism, and of course, local food. She is fascinated by the health, economic, and sustainability impacts of eating locally.

Kimberly is a proud lifetime learner.  She has a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Communications, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Public Relations, and a Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Certificate. She is also a graduate of the Specs Howard School of Media Arts, and holds various certificates related to farming’s Food Safety Modernization Act and GAP/GHP practices.  By blending her unique skill set, she would be absolutely delighted to hear your story and learn how she can support your local business!

When not working with TLD, you will likely find her covered in dirt with her husband and young kiddo at the Grand Traverse Area Children’s Garden (she’s also its Executive Director), or in her kitchen cooking, baking or preserving the latest local bounty. If socially acceptable, she’s also almost always wearing a hat.

Molly Stepanski - TLD Local Food Coordinator for Northeast Michigan

Molly owns and operates Presque Isle Farm with her husband Dion, their son Sawyer, and two dogs, Huck and Abe, in northeastern Michigan. In 2014, they transformed the family's hobby farm into a thriving market vegetable business and are now supplying free, local food o two school districts through Hoophouses for Health, in addition to selling their produce to NE Michigan restaurants, farmers markets, and groceries.


Following college, Molly served in Togo, West Africa, with the Peace Corps. Upon her return to the states she spent time in Montana herding sheep and eventually as the manager at the Good Food Store. Molly Quickly became infatuated with supporting and building healthy communities through food choices and education. 

After several years in Montana, she received 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.

Alexandria Palzewicz - TLD Local Food Coordinator for the Upper Peninsula

Alex grew up in the beautiful Upper Peninsula, raised around agriculture and community service. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality Management from Northern Michigan University, where the program turned a lifetime FOH server into a spunky line cook. She has over 10 years of restaurant and event experience, working every spectrum and position of the industry. Her work is driven by her passion for food, and after traveling Europe and living in seattle, she has returned home with the goal of expanding the local food systems and evolving the food culture of the Upper Peninsula.

In her first year as UP Local Food Coordinator, Alex is doing all she can do to better understand the needs of her region, as well as helping educate consumers on why purchasing local is so important for our communities. She serves on multiple boards and committees throughout the UP in hopes of connecting the various links of the local food chain. Her signature food samplings and demonstrations inspire consumers to step outside their comfort zone, and in front of a cutting board. 


Rebecca Henderson- West Michigan Local Food Coordinator

Rebecca hails from Rochester, NY and has spent the last 9 years working with farms and food in the Bay Area of California. What started out as a year in AmeriCorps working at a food bank quickly turned into an extensive career in sustainable agriculture. Yurt-living and coastal exploring are some of her past times, and learning the tools of the trade as a midwest farmer is her present. Rebecca is now settled into Grand Rapids, where she has fallen in love with the farming and food community in Western Michigan. 

Along with TLD, Rebecca works for Green Wagon Farm as the CSA, Wholesale and Marketing Manager, and dreams in connecting her community with real food that’s grown with care. Starting out at Green Wagon as a farmhand, Rebecca appreciates getting her hands dirty and loves to spread the word and good fight for our local food movement. This makes for a perfect fit for her role as the West Michigan Local Food Coordinator, and is excited to be introducing TLD to this region of our state. 

Rebecca graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Media studies. She also completed the Sustainable Food and Farming program through UMass Amherst and is now putting her studies to real life. 

LaBria Lane - Mid-Michigan Local Food Marketing Rep

LaBria is an experienced Urban Agriculturalist living in the Flint area. In the past she has worked on urban farms, in school gardens with kids, and in high end landscaping. She owns a newly established farm, MarySam’s gardens, and is active in her community food system. She is currently pursuing her horticulture degree at Michigan State University as a part time student.

LaBria also works for Genesee Conservation District, where she offers technical assistance to small scale growers, and provides educational opportunities for them as well. 

She is excited to join the TLD team to continue relationship building with growers and helping their businesses thrive. She is very passionate about food, family, and learning which reflects in all of her work, skills, and accomplishments.


Sara is a Milwaukee native who lived in Chicago for nearly a decade before making the move to the true North. In college, she studied advertising and marketing to fuel her entrepreneurial drive. Following that, she spent a handful of years working in advertising agencies focusing on media planning and digital project management.

However, Sara's true passion and focus has always been around food. She made a career pivot and became a private chef and co-owner of an events and catering company. She has competed in the World BBQ Championships in Memphis and traveled the US with a pick-up truck and 20 foot custom built smoker.

Sara moved to Marquette, MI almost 2 years ago with her partner so they could start their own small business. There, she could connect with food on a new level, working towards her dream of owning a homestead bed and breakfast. For the past few years, she has volunteered at a permaculture farm, worked at a farm to table restaurant and wine bar getting to know Marquette's local food system, it's growers, producers and supporters.

While not working or volunteering, Sara absolutely LOVES the outdoors. She grew up sailing on Lake Michigan and now paddle boards on the waters of Lake Superior, goes for long hikes year round, and backcountry skijors with her dog, Gary. Plus, she just sold her car to invest in a fat tire bike.  

Sara is excited to work with TLD and bring together the connections she has made these past few years. She is passionate about helping local businesses that support the UP's incredibly diverse local economy and enrich the community.

Christina Marbury - TLD Retail Support and Photographer

Christina CarsonChristina brings a diverse background of experience throughout the food system to her work with TLD. Since her graduation from the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment, Christina has a 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.


Now her focus is on helping local food businesses market themselves. You can see her wielding a camera dangerously close to culinary works of art, a farmer's field, or the farmer herself. She also works behind the scenes on strategy, content writing, search optimization and more. 

In addition to her work with TLD, Christina runs her own business (Toot Sweet) and writes for The Awesome Mitten. She offers a full line of photography services, digital marketing support, and can even bake you a cake! Contact her via her website at tootsweetness.com
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