2013 Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference: Grayling, MI

This past Saturday was the 14th Annual Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference. A gathering with the mission to build and foster a local vibrant agricultural community. The conference is an educational forum with the opportunity for sharing ideas, developing a local network, and empowering participants with the tools necessary to be successful. The day includes a series of educational sessions and speaking seminars, with a well-balanced lunch allowing for the chance to stretch your legs, recharge, or casually build relationships with 1 or more of the 800 attendees.


I was involved in the conference not as an attendee this year, but rather in the kitchen with Michael Everts of Blackbird Gardens and his team of farmers, foodies, & friends. We spent the morning baking apple crisps, muffins & scones. We layered lasagnas, chopped produce for salads and roasted squash in the oven. Blackbird Gardens’s catering company Real Food Dream Kitchen, sourced fresh local produce, breads & ciders in the heart of winter. With Saturday’s dream team, we prepped, cooked, and fed about 800 conference goers. The people I had the pleasure of working with were great. We were a “well-oiled machine” of a team, with most of us never having worked together in the past. The synergy was incredible; people helping people, “Farmers Feeding Farmers.”

The Menu:



Mike Everts and Real Food Dream Kitchen have been catering The Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference for several years now. What better way to celebrate Northern Michigan Agriculture and the people whose hard work make it available to us, than a fresh and local culinary display of the very produce we’re celebrating. This alone makes it a tribute of the heart, but to have access to this type of bounty in January, makes it a grateful tribute of ingenuity & excellence as well.


After smelling the aromas all day and working hard in and out of the kitchen to serve the 800 attendees we sat down and enjoyed the fruits of our labor as a team. Congratulating one another on a swift, problem-free and more than enjoyable afternoon of Real Food catering.


Thank you to all those who made the Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference possible as well as the food community that supports and attends it. Here in Northern Michigan, we have an access to fresh local produce that is invaluable. I love knowing, meeting, and working with the people that make it all possible.

No Farms, No Food.




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