With this edition iCR visits the Orchard & Vineyard Show in Traverse City. This is the annual winter gathering for fruit growers from across the state of Michigan. With two years of nearly totally destructive of weather in one decade, the fruit industry is facing challenges that go beyond marketing. iCR visits with Dr. Julie Winkler from MSU reporting on climate change threats to cherry production, and with a selection of producers, both experienced and new, on the adaptations they foresee making to continue raising fruit in the face of more frequently occurring weather threats and long term changes in climate.
ICR takes a look at the work of local teacher, Bill Kouchy who three years ago publicly announced his plans for a local scale biodiesel production facility. Under the name Northwest Michigan Biodiesel, Kouchy's production facility is about to start up. Bill shares his experiences with technical development, financial pressures and decisions, and networking with others in the field. His financial decisions reflects the hurdles that exist to local investment in local-scale projects, his networking an example of building social capital. His ultimate plan includes local production of canola, food grade canola oil to be used in local restaurants, and that oil recycled into biodiesel fuel to be used principally as local farm machinery fuel. A totally local loop!
Josh Wunsch is in on this discussion. Josh is a local fruit grower and experienced agricultural manager with clear views on agricultural trends. Localism is all well and good, says Josh, but their are 330 million mouths to feed each day. The demand of that, alone, will play into the balance between a fragile, corporate sized food system and a more resilient localized food system. How far localism goes will be determined by how much 'locals' are willing to pay for more local food and how deeply they support the development of markets. Farmers don't produce into a vacuum. They produce for a viable market that can sustainability pay them to produce.
ICR travels to the Farm Route To Prosperity Summit, the fourth annual event held recently in Traverse City. The summit is a networking conference for farm and food business specialists from NW Michigan offering the chance to look ahead at the changing economics of food production and the development of local food systems. The Michigan Good Food Charter, farm land protection, and farm financing are just a few of the topics in this selection of comments and presentations from the summit. The development of regional food hubs was a main focus of the speakers and some important follow-up discussions. Resilience is a term we heard multiple times at this conference.
In this week's program Jan Shireman and Gerard Grabowski join us to tell their story of a business that is a shining example of the all-local, farm to business to consumer economic model so important to building local food resilience. These two created Pleasanton Brick Oven Bakery nearly two decades ago in search of a locally made, healthy bread and in the process became national leaders in the artisan bread movement. Pleasanton Bakery today employs nearly a dozen people in direct bakery jobs. Learn what makes their bread so different. Jan and Gerard share their dream of local sustainable agriculture and of ag-to-consumer businesses to support locally grown food. Only one of the grains they currently use comes from outside of Michigan, but the rest is grown on downstate farms. Gerard argues that northern Michigan needs to grow much more grain for local use, and develop its own milling facilities to turn the grains into flour.