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Favorite Emmet County Moments from 2018Print

food and farming | January 29, 2019 | By Jen Schaap

Favorite Emmet County Moments from 2018

Michael Behrmann, Superintendent, Harbor Springs Public Schools 

2018 was a great year for Groundwork’s Petoskey office. There’s so much to reflect upon. We thought we’d share a few quotable moments from food champions and locavores in Emmet County.

Cheers to another year of creating a healthy food culture! Our work in Emmet is made possible in large part by Petoskey–Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation (PHSACF) and other generous supporters—thank you!

Schools in Emmet County are getting on board with healthy food!

Sherry Sedore, Pellston Public Schools Food Service Director

“I spent over $10,000 on local food last (school) year!”—Sherry Sedore, Pellston Public Schools Food

Service Director Pellston Public Schools was a 2018–2019 10 Cents a Meal recipient. Sedore is known to use those funds to support local growers, filling her own car full of apples purchased from Golden River Orchard in Cheboygan or vegetables from Coveyou Scenic Farm in Petoskey for the school’s lunch program.

“Apples in your ready position! Fourth graders...5…4…3…2…1...CRUNCH!”—Michael Behrmann, Harbor Springs Public Schools Superintendent (pictured at top) leading an apple tasting on Apple Crunch Day in October

Harbor Springs surprised us at a meeting before the school year even started, when the new superintendent was ready to start tastings of seasonal produce right away! The school kicked it off with Apple Crunch Day in October, and did a squash tasting in November. Our staff is currently helping plan tastings through May, starting with parsnips in January.

"What's the deal with Try-It stickers anyways?"—Pellston Public Schools parent to a teacher on a field trip.

Casey Haggerty, our FoodCorps AmeriCorps service member, met up with a group of Pellston preschoolers and kindergarteners at Bill's Farm Market in October during their class field trip. She was helping kindergarten teacher Mrs. Matelski pour apple cider for the students when another chaperone, a mom, came up to her and asked, "What's the deal with Try-It stickers anyways?" Mrs. Matelski pointed at Casey and said, "She's responsible, you'll have to talk to her!" Casey explained to the mom that she does monthly taste tests in the cafeteria, and students get a "Tried it!" sticker after they taste a sample and vote if they "tried it/liked it/loved it." After Casey explained this to the mom, she said, "That makes sense! He tries everything on his plate at dinner now, but demands a sticker afterwards! I guess I'll have to go pick up a [sticker] pack sometime."

Healthy food and scratch-cooking for all

Celebrating the promotion of Bridge Cards at the Downtown Petoskey Farmers Market. From left: Jen Schaap, Wendy Wieland, Lynne DeMoor, and Emily Stuchell, Downtown Petoskey Farmers Market Manager

“Do you take Double Up Food Bucks at this market?”—customer at the Downtown Petoskey Farmers Market summer of 2018

In 2018, Groundwork, MSU Extension and the Health Department worked together to assist the Downtown Petoskey Farmers Market to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2018. In 2019, the team will implement Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB), which doubles what a recipient can spend on whole food products. In the past, not many SNAP recipients knew they could use their food assistance beyond gas stations and stores. This year, not only did they hear about using the benefits at the market, they also knew to ask how to double their dollars!

“The new refrigerator acts like a giant billboard.”—Regina Brubacker-Carver, RN, Health Educator, and main contact for the Building Healthy Communities project at Little Traverse Bay Band (LTBB) Community Health Department

In 2018, through Building Healthy Communities funding, a now four-year partnership with the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, a refrigerator display case was purchased to store the harvested items, which were made available to clients at the clinic. Groundwork also helped facilitate the translation of the Harvest of the Month handouts, now featuring key words in Anishinaabemowin: Mskwadiisminak (Beans) for March/April, Mandaaminak (Corn) for August, and Mshiiminak (Apples) for October. With the additional funds and support, the Home-Grown Project was able to offer monthly tastings with a specific focus each month. Regina Brubacker-Carver, RN, Health Educator, and main contact for the project, said the refrigerated display case is like “a giant billboard” helping to engage clients as they walk in. So not only did the refrigerator help keep the produce fresher longer and make it more attractive to passers-by, it also was a conversation starter that piqued the curiosity of clients.

“I wish you could be here when the clients come and pick up their food. They love [the signage in the Anishinaabemowin language]!”—Joe Van Alstine, Little Traverse Bay Band (LTBB) of Odawa Indians Food Distribution Program

Through Building Healthy Communities, Groundwork worked with the LTBB Food Distribution Program to purchase aisle signage for their facility featuring key words in Anishinaabemowin. Facility managers were also able to purchase display racks and produce towers to make produce more attractive to clients. The Harvest of the Month brochures were available at this facility as well, yet another place to support education on cooking from scratch and eating more local fruits and vegetables.

Behind-the-scenes — quietly laying the groundwork.

Blender and crockpot classes gave hands-on instruction, appliances, and vouchers for purchasing fresh, local food at the farmers market.

"I was glad to connect with the local senior center. I don't grow large quantities, and the scale [the senior center] is looking for on their salad bar might be a good match for our farm." — a farmer in Petoskey at the Cultivate Michigan Marketplace, February 2018

In 2018, Groundwork partnered with several organizations, including MSU Center for Regional Food Systems and the Ecology Center, to hold four Cultivate Michigan Marketplace events in the state to connect farmers to schools and other institutions. We know that big change can happen with one small first step. The Friendship Center with which this grower connected started with one salad spinner purchase to get fresh greens into its meal program years ago, and just received one of the four inaugural Cultivate Michigan Awards in 2018 for setting the bar for sourcing local foods by an institution. “As a nurse, I know the importance of eating healthy food to prevent illness and to maintain vitality as seniors age,” said Christine Scott, the Health Services Director for Friendship Centers of Emmet County. (She trackS local food purchases through Cultivate Michigan.) 

“Eat a rainbow of colors for vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber benefits, and multiple anti-oxidants—cell protection, cell protection, cell protection!”—Prescription for Produce instructor Nina Fearon, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), during a hands-on cooking class that Groundwork helped plan.

Prescription for Produce provides health education, nutrition information, cooking techniques, and local produce to qualified participants. Patients who are referred by their health care provider were invited to attend three 45-minute hands-on classes held on Fridays in the fall of 2018. A dietitian taught the classes, which took place at the Crooked Tree Arts Center (CTAC) kitchen in Petoskey. Participants received the supplies needed to scrub, peel, cut, and prepare fresh produce, and $16 of Farmers Market vouchers after each class. Partners in the pilot series include Bay View OB/GYN, Bliss Gardens Farm & Community Kitchen, CTAC, McLaren Northern Michigan, PHSACF, the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, and Groundwork Center. Blender and crockpot classes across the three-county area are continuing into 2019 through the Manna Food Project. Upcoming summary article in March—stay tuned!

Groundwork's work in the northern counties is supported by the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, the Charlevoix County Community Foundation, and many other private and foundation donors.

Jen Schaap, Local Food Policy Specialist, works in our Petoskey office.