Black Star Farms Harvest Dinner Series

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHarvest often concludes with a social celebration of the season. It’s a time to remember the energy and hard work that has been poured into the fields, while recognizing that success is based on the whim of Mother Nature. Growers gratefully honor the harvest of the season by sharing their food with others. Growers, like the Inn at Black Star Farms.

Their Harvest Dinner essentially began eight years ago with the introduction of the annual “Morels in May” event. Over the last few years, farmers in our region have continued to make strides in extending their season and providing us with local harvests year-round. In an effort to educate the public and raise awareness of our northern Michigan agricultural community, the Black Star Farms Harvest Dinner became a monthly series in March 2013. Each Harvest Dinner focuses on one or two items that are truly distinctive to that particular month. Those items are highlighted along with the chef’s creativity in each course that’s prepared. Continue reading

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

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.