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Northern Farms Foodshed

 

Building the Northern Farms Foodshed

A community-based project in partnership with the

Local Food Alliance of Northern Michigan

Through our partnership with the Local Food Alliance of Northern Michigan and food systems advocates in Charlevoix and Emmet counties, Groundwork aims to bring food and farming programming to the Northern Farms Foodshed in Charlevoix and Emmet counties. This programming will support a diverse local economy, and preserve the farmland, open spaces, and farm businesses that are essential to the character of this region. 

The food and farming system of the “Northern Farms Foodshed” of Emmet and Charlevoix counties mirrors many of the same challenges facing our national food system. The value of farm products declined by almost 20 percent over the past 30 years while the cost of farmland has skyrocketed. Farmers are getting older and many must take second jobs. And difficult access to healthy food has contributed to soaring rates of  childhood obesity and diabetes. In Charlevoix County, 19.8 percent of families with children under 18 qualify for supplemental food assistance, and struggle to afford healthy, seasonal foods.

In the face of these challenges, the region is working to build a more vital local food and farming system. There are more, smaller farms popping up in northern Michigan, and production has shifted dramatically from livestock to crops. The value of farm products sold directly to individuals increased almost threefold between 2002 and 2012. 

Younger farmers are emerging at farms like Pond Hill, Bluestem, Providence, Bear Creek Organic, Spirit of Walloon, and Coveyou Scenic Farm, as well as a number of new wineries. New and existing businesses are using local farm products and more locally-grown food can be found in our grocery stores, restaurants, and institutions.  

In 2012, advocates from Charlevoix and Emmet counties came together to form the Local Food Alliance of Northern Michigan, an all-volunteer group dedicated to addressing these issues and celebrating local food and farming. LFA has identified there is real momentum toward positive changes, but there’s still more to be done. This is where Groundwork comes in; the organization is exceptionally well-suited to capitalize on this momentum and move the food and farming system of Northern Farms Foodshed forward.

Groundwork brings more than a decade of experience and a successful track record building the necessary networks, implementing effective marketing tools, and raising awareness about the benefits of a strong community food system. Based in Traverse City, Groundwork (formerly the Michigan Land Use Institute) has mostly focused in the five-county Grand Traverse region. 

Through our partnership with the Local Food Alliance of Northern Michigan and food systems advocates in Charlevoix and Emmet counties, we aim to bring food and farming programming to the Northern Farms Foodshed. This programming will support a diverse local economy, and preserve the farmland, open spaces, and farm businesses that are essential to the character of this region. Program elements that Groundwork plans to bring include:

  • A robust farm to school program, which grew from just one school in 2004 to 14 in 2014 in the Grand Traverse region, and now serves more than 20,000 students through a partnership with Traverse Bay Intermediate School District;
  • Greater healthful food options at food pantries and meal sites, as well as the expansion of food assistance programs at grocery retailers and community farmers markets (including Double Up Food Bucks, EBT, WIC, and others);
  • Stronger connections to the regional Food and Farming Network that integrates farmer training and infrastructure, access to healthy local food for everyone, and economic development opportunities for food business.
 

Big thanks to the following sponsors:

 

Sustainer SponsorS

 

 

 

 

Foodshed SponsorS

 

 

 

 

Luminary SPONSORS

 

 

 

CULTIVATOR SPONSORS