A “Fresh” Perspective

There are countless documentaries making comments on the current state of our food system. They each differ in varying degrees of tragedy, omission, honesty and optimism.  “Fresh” became part of that ever growing panoply of films in 2009.  The film’s director, Ana Sofia Joanes, sets “Fresh” apart by providing a well-balanced account of the dismal realities in industrial agriculture while layering the narrative with promising, inspiring and practical solutions that are beginning a movement.

FilmReviewWEB_Fresh_the_Movie_Will_Allen_GrowingPower Continue reading

Duerksen Turkey Farm: Mancelona, MI

I’m having a great time working as an intern for Taste the Local Difference. Over the past few month I’ve been able to dive even further into Northwest Michigan’s local food scene and learn more about the great farmers, retailers and producers we have throughout this region.

I’ve known Sue Duerksen and her husband Rick for about three years now though the various local farmers markets I help to manage. In a recent newsletter and posting on the Taste the Local Difference Blog I was able to interview the Duerksen’s to understand more about their farm and why Duerksen’s turkeys are so highly sought after throughout the region. You’ll find the original article below. Enjoy! Continue reading

New Season, New Beginnings


A photo captured of me by one of our customers at the Sara Hardy Farmers Market

I’ve been really busy lately. Not just my normal busy: from the full-time job to managing the local farmers markets, and the average day to day necessities. But now I’m really busy. Busy spending my time doing MORE of something I love. Over the past month I’ve been working with Michigan Land Use Institute as the Intern for their “Taste the Local Difference” (TLD) program. A program with the mission, to sell more local food. Continue reading

The Fourth Annual Edible Art Show: Traverse City, MI


The Farmers Market at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is more than just a place to pick up your week’s worth of groceries. Its a community gathering place; an event, more than simply a grab and go shopping experience. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I manage the Farmer Market operations at The Village which includes marketing and developing events throughout the course of the year. The local community has supported our market for over four years now and in the hope to give back to that community, we host a monthly “Give-Back Market Date.”


Fondant Flowers by Old Hundredth Farm

The “Give Back Market Date”  is held on the Second Saturday of each month and this month’s “Give Back” event was the Annual Edible Art Show, benefiting the Father Fred Foundation. Saturday, March 9th was the fourth annual Edible Art Show and the Edible Entries were some of the best to date.


The Father Fred Foundation is a local organization whose mission is to “listen to the community needs, care for the distressed, the poor, the hungry and the suffering, and share resources in a loving and respectful manner.”

The Foundation and its local food pantry accepts no state or federal funding, but instead relies entirely on the care and generosity of our local community.  The Edible Art Show at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons Farmers Market is an annual event that raises money for this incredible organization and the members of our local community in need.

Father Fred Foundation

The Edible Art Masterpieces are created by our Farmers Market Vendors and the “Village People,” a name that refers to the residents and merchants that make up the Village Community. Members of the public in attendance are the official judges, and money is raised by The Father Fred Foundation through ticket sales. Tickets are placed in the respective bag for your favorite Edible Art Entry. You can vote as many times as you like, purchasing as many tickets as you’d like and the winners are determined by the highest number of ticket votes collected.


Paul Murray with his edible wheatgrass hat

This year we raised over $280 dollars for the Father Fred Foundation through the efforts of the Edible Art Show. None of it would be possible without the generous support of our public judges and the creative efforts of the “Edible” Artists.


Winners in each category of the Edible Art Show received a beautiful trophy, this year the “Golden Pear.” The Golden Pear trophies were made of a piece of brick from the “Traverse City State Hospital” built in 1885, the site which is now known as The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.


The Winners of each Category were:

Best in Show- Diana Jelenek from Spring Hollow Farm with the “Chick-a-Saurus”

Best Farm Vendor– Kim Norton from Confections by Kim with “Keeping us Safe”


Best Village MerchantMichigan Farm Market with “The Green Tractor”

Best Village Resident– Kristen Messner with “Haiku”


I’m so grateful to have received such incredible edible entries, and for the support of our local community coming together to raise funds for this great cause. The Edible Art show is always the second Saturday in March so if you’ve never been, mark your calendars for next year!


“The Fruit Mouse” by Boss Mouse Cheese and

“Pleasanton Loafers” made from loaves of Pleasanton bread by Fred Lortet


Stephanie Wiitala and Family from Black Star Farms, created this

creative collection of  friendly edible creatures!


I put together an edible art piece of my own, and  called it “1,2,3…Zucchini!”

With two Zucchinis, some toothpicks and a half of a tomato, the zucchini camera was born! I was far from being a “winner”, in terms of votes, but it was an absolute blast to create and I’ll certainly be dreaming up something new for next year’s Art Show.


Thank you to all the Artists and our Public Judges, every edible entry was unique and creative, and your efforts were absolutely appreciated! The Edible Art show is always one of my favorite events at our Indoor Farmers Market and I’m looking forward to celebrating next year’s Fifth Annual event with another successful fundraiser and many more edible masterpieces on display. Remember…

You ART what you EAT



The Village Indoor Farmers Market: Traverse City, MI


Farmers Markets are one of my favorite community gatherings. You might say I’ve got a resume to prove it and its true. I love what I do and I love being involved in Traverse City’s community markets.


I help to manage the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market as well as the year-round Farmers Market at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. The later as I mentioned is a year-round market. In the summer it takes place outside on the Piazza, an ample open green space on the beautiful campus, perfect for the event.


During the cold months, it’s held within the walls of the Mercato, the marketplace of retail shops, cafes, galleries & boutiques at The Village.

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Now its important for me to preface the unique location of the Village market for those of you who aren’t familiar with Traverse City, so I’ll make it short and sweet.  The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is one of the largest Historic Redevelopment projects in the country. The Campus was formerly known as the Northern Michigan Asylum or Traverse City State Hospital built in 1885.


After 100 years in operation, the hospital was left empty to decay and with threats to demolish these beautiful historic buildings, a group was formed to save the State Hospital. My boss, Ray Minervini became a part of that group, later sharing his vision of redeveloping the campus into a mixed-use community called The Village, open to the public and thriving with renewed life. Today, 10 years later and with many years to come, The Village Farmers Market adds a heavy dose of healthy well-being and social interaction to this vibrant community.


From fresh local produce, honey, and maple syrup to homemade salsas, tamales, pasties, and delicious baked goods; the Village Farmers Market fills the hallways with about 45 vendors every Saturday.


The Market is lively, friendly and simply an enjoyable place to spend your Saturday morning. With a cup of coffee in hand and the weekly update from friends throughout the hallway you can pick up greens for your salads, pastas or smoothies as well as bread & croissants baked fresh that morning. Root Vegetables line the hallways as do coolers stocked with fresh meats, cheeses, butter and milk.

The most unique element is that all of this exists inside a century old building with an existing stable marketplace of  retail merchants, galleries, boutiques, wineries, a cafe and an incredible Italian restaurant. You can wander in and out of the shops as you gather produce and other treats in the hallway all the while enjoying the company of our community gathering together.

Saturday at The Village Market is an incredible event that is great to watch on camera (see below) but even better experienced first hand.

-Watch this feature on Up North Media to hear me share details on the market’s beginnings and our upcoming special events!

-View the thriving market in action on 9 & 10 featuring Sandee Ware from Ware Farm!

Where is your favorite place to get fresh produce this time of year?



Pike Place Market: Seattle, WA


Seattle, Washington was always a destination on my “must-see” list, but it wasn’t until one of my dearest friends, Heather, moved out there that I was given the ‘ole push. The trip, which was nearly a year ago, began with 3 best friends from the Midwest jumping on a plane to Seattle to visit the fourth chick that flew the coop. It resulted in endless amounts of love, laughter, drinks & food, all of which are staples in the gatherings of my best friends.


One of our afternoons was spent at Pike Place Market. An incredible spot I’d only heard about, but longed to visit. The Open Air Market was as colorful and full of life as I would have dreamed. From the freshest produce and cheeses, to incredible seafood and picture perfect flowers. There was warm baked bread, flavored pastas, olive oil, vinegar, literally anything you could eat or drink and even jewelry, purses and clothing to boot! Street musicians lined every corner and everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there. I found myself in awe of the colors and the space, perhaps in a daze between the pleasant bustle, incredible smells and joyful conversation.


The four of us picked out a fresh baguette, a few cups of unbelievable clam chowder and ingredients for our big friendly feast later in the night. When it was time to leave the market we marched right down to the water, gazed out to sea and ate. With every bite uttering an “mmm”, “ahhh”, “ohmygoodness” or my personal favorite exclaimer with its true expression of the sentiment, “yumma-lumma-ding-dong.”P2180499

Pike Place Market is 100 years in the making and it all began with Seattle City Council member Thomas Revelle’s ordinance to create a public farmers market in 1907.  I’m in awe of Seattle’s commitment to the fresh local food community. Its remarkable that this city has understood the importance of healthy fresh food and made it available to their residents for over 100 years, while other states and communities are just now catching on.


If you’re visiting Seattle for a week, a day or simply a few hours,  you need to make a stop at Pike Place. Simply, its a feast for your eyes and for your belly. Well, your nose too… okay, a Feast for the Senses. The Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority (PDA) makes it easy to learn more, find your way, or meet the farmers who make up the market on their top notch website. The Pike Place Market PDA is a non-profit created in 1973 by the city of Seattle to manage the market in addition to the nine-acre parcel and properties which make up the Historic Market District.


Their mission is to “preserve, rehabilitate and protect the Market’s buildings; increase opportunities for farm and food retailing; incubate and support small and marginal businesses; and provide services for low-income people.” This hub of activity that Pike Place creates is an incredible example of community and I love that just like our table at home, everyone gathers together around food.



Peace, Love & Chowder