Thursday, June 20, 2013
To look at Bluestem Farm's assortment of hundred-year-old barns and cleared fields, at the spreading old trees and the grapes and hops and lilacs, you'd think the place had been in our family forever. But my husband and I are first-generation farmers who have owned Bluestem Farm for just over a year. With plenty of hard work and help from family, friends, and neighbors, we're proud to see our new farm take shape as one of the area's newest artisanal farming endeavors.
All this represents a hope we've had for many years. Though the process at times exasperated the families who sent us off to college, we spent much of our 20s and 30s living in more places than it's easy to count, building up strange resumes, and fitting farming into our lives however we could.
Even while we lived in big cities like New York and Boston, whether it was urban gardens, tiny greenhouses, or clandestine flocks of chickens and ducks, farming kept running in the margins of our lives. And from film festivals on rooftops to free concerts and world cuisine, our time in cities gave us an appreciation for how much good food and public gatherings can add to a person's life.
But our years as landless farmers didn't take place only in cities. The chapters that contained Russia and rural New Hampshire saw us drawing near great cold-weather farms. It was in those intensely rural, northern places where we learned to extend the harvest beyond the scope of summer food, care for pasture-raised animals, and admire the strength of a good farm-centered community.
It's easy to see now how all these experiences shaped our sense of the kind of farm we wanted to build, but in real time and for the better part of our adult lives, we could not solve the problem of where we wanted to set down roots to start this farm we couldn't stop talking about. That is, until the birth of our son Peter.
In the fall of 2011, at 36 years old, we decided it was time to grow up and move home to northern Michigan. With plenty of help, we bought the land that makes up Bluestem Farm from a couple who'd owned and cared for the place for half a century without farming it. During that time, the farm's varied habitats had been protected in an interconnected patchwork of wildlife zones, native species growth, and woodlands. As we go about restoring the pastures and vegetable gardens to working farmland, we are also aware of the need to protect them, preserving habitats for native pollinators, birds, and wildlife for another generation to come.
Last winter, Bluestem Farm launched a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, a four-season subscription service that offers members of the farm weekly shares of pasture-raised, heritage-breed pork, chicken, and eggs, as well as a huge variety of vegetables. This build-your-own share program offers members an unusual degree of variety and choice in local, healthy, and delicious food, grown safely and sustainably without synthetic sprays, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics, or hormones. Pick-ups are available in Bellaire, Boyne City, Gaylord, and Petoskey, as well as on the farm in East Jordan.
We look forward to many years of hard work and building to come, and in the meantime, being part of thousands of phenomenal home-cooked meals.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
So happy to report that 9 Bean Rows has found a new home. A post on their Facebook page from this afternoon states:
Been waiting many moons to tell you that we have found our home! We just purchased the Firehouse Pub in Suttons Bay today, and are sitting on the rooftop with a bottle of bubbly right now!
Look for us to be open for breakfast (small menu) lunch, and dinner in about a month!
Jen Welty, baker/owner
Nic Welty, farmer/owner
Paul Carlson, chef/owner
Cheers to new beginnings!!
Lucky, lucky Suttons Bay!
Thursday, May 23, 2013
With warmer weather, longer days and heavier traffic, summertime in Northern Michigan is quickly approaching. We all know there isn't a shortage of fun things to do in Traverse City in the summer. But here is one idea that is sure to be a blast. Why not grab a group of close friends and tour some of downtown TC's best breweries and restaurants on a 14-passenger bike bar?
TC natives Kevin Farron and Troy Daily saw that pub bikes were sprouting up all over the country, and they decided to bring TC Cycle Pub to their hometown.
TC Cycle Pub owners Kevin, left, and Troy, right, pictured with Carly, Los Bob, and Shauny Boy from Drink My Brewcast.
"Troy and I realized that Traverse City - given its growing number of breweries within close proximity to one another, its flat, 25-mph downtown roadways, and emphasis on local businesses supporting one another - simply needed one of these," explains Kevin. "Plus, who doesn't love outdoor fun in TC?"
Kevin lives in Bend, Oregon, where the country's first vehicle of this kind debuted about two years ago, and which he happens to drive as a part-time gig. When Kevin and Troy began scheming their idea of bringing a pub bike to TC, their friends and family were all on board, and were eager to help. Gaining support for the business was the easy part; getting the bike here was a different story.
The bike was built by Cycle Pub Manufacturing in Bend. Shipping the bike to TC proved to be a challenge, as this is one BIG bike! There were plenty of modifications installed on the Cycle Pub to give it added safety and a sleek operation, including a seat belt for the driver, motorcycle-grade gears and chains, back rests for all riders, headlights, turn signals, a horn, and two braking systems.
Also, some of the modifications on the bike were challenging. "I found out quickly that I'm no electrician," Kevin states. "We've had to rewire a few things."
But rest assured, everything is working fine now, and the TC Cycle Pub has already hit the streets. Over the past couple months many groups have enjoyed a ride around town; and reservations are filling up fast, especially on nights and weekends. The bike is available 7 days a week, and the standard, 2-hour tours start and end at the Filling Station. The TCCP is allowed to venture wherever you'd like, within reason, of course. There is always a driver on board and they will provide some recommended routes. In addition to the driver, 14 passengers are allowed to ride, with a minimum of 8.
At this point, the pub is unable to serve beer on board, but they are optimistic that with community support and a flawless safety record they will be able to offer this soon. Kevin and Troy hope to add more bikes someday, and they also encourage groups to use the bike for tours having nothing to do with drinking.
"It's a great way for families to celebrate reunions or spend a visit to TC, seeing the town in an intimate and leisurely way," Kevins says. "We can stop at parks, Kilwin's, Cherry Republic, M22, or any other downtown favorite. Kids and families are encouraged to consider the bike for summer fun. It's also a great way to sample the local food in town, spending 15-20 minutes at each stop."
The Cycle Pub is also available for private parties and off-site events. If on private property, they are allowed to have beer or wine on board.
Interested in finding out more? You can email info@TCCYCLEPUB.com, visit their Facebook page, or website for more info.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Traverse City has topped many national lists over the past few years as a place to live and visit. This fall the city will celebrate the many reasons why residents and visitors alike love Traverse City so much with a weekend festival so delicious, it will tempt any foodie and wine or beer lover. The 1st Annual Taste of Traverse City Festival will take place September 13-15, highlighting the city's epicurean specialties and shops.
Along with its breathtaking beauty, the Northern Michigan town has emerged as a dynamic epicurean and event destination over the years for those seeking a more unique culinary experience. It comes as no surprise that Traverse City has been named among "The Top 5 Foodie Towns in America" by Bon Appetit Magazine, "The Top 5 Food Towns in the Midwest" by Midwest Living Magazine, "Top 10 Place To Enjoy Local Wine" by USA Magazine and "Top 3 Emerging Beer Towns in the USA."
With so many accolades, dedicating an entire weekend to showcase Traverse City's culinary specialties, extraordinary wine, beer and spirits, and merchandise all in one single weekend seemed only natural.
The 1st Annual Taste of Traverse City Festival will provide visitors an opportunity to sip, sample and shop as it features tasting, culinary and shopping events throughout the weekend, including a downtown Grub Crawl on Friday, September 13, and the festival's showcase event, Taste of Traverse City, on Saturday, September 14. Festival guests will enjoy seeing premier chefs and culinary personalities; tasting the cuisine and libations from area restaurants and eateries, caterers, wineries, and breweries; attending demonstrations and workshops; and much more.
"We are anticipating the Taste of Traverse Festival will be an annual destination event that draws the local food enthusiast as well as gourmet food and wine/beer travelers from across the country," says event organizer, Carol Lewis of Lakeshore Event Group.
A full schedule of events and ticket information will be announced at a later date. Visit the event website, where details will continue to be added. Vendor and sponsorship opportunities are available for the festival; for more information, contact the Lakeshore Event Group at firstname.lastname@example.org or (231) 714-4646 or (248) 619-9696.
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