Community enthusiastic for Farm to Fork movement

HARRISVILLE – The Michigan Economic Development Corporation recently awarded a $7,500 grant to Farm to Fork Alcona. The MEDC pledged to match on-line donations raised during a 30-day period in October. With over $7,500 brought in from local donors, and the MEDC $7,500 grant, Farm to Fork Alcona, and the community as a whole, has a brighter future.

The donations raised through Patronicity.org were from 70 individuals, mostly from Alcona County and Michigan, but several from out of state.

Patronicity is a Midwest website designed to help citizens raise funds for worthy causes, also known as crowd-funding and crowd-granting.

Farm to Fork Alcona started as a grassroots movement within the 501(c)3 nonprofit Inspiration Alcona to help improve the local economy. Alcona County, located south of Alpena along the shores of Lake Huron, is rich in natural resources, including fertile land and agricultural opportunities. By producing and marketing fresh foods in the popular farm to table movement, consumers’ health truly benefits, and so could the finances of small farms and business owners.

The goal is to encourage partnerships between local growers and fresh food purveyors with area restaurants, bed & breakfast locations, and farmers markets. Marketing Alcona County as a Farm to Fork destination with bountiful food choices and natural beauty could boost tourism.

Citizens and friends of Farm to Fork Alcona showed their support not only by donating to Patronicity, but also by attending a series of educational workshops and dinners during 2017.

The donations and grant awarded to Farm to Fork Alcona will be used to host future educational conferences. The conferences are designed to help established farms and businesses, as well as those interested in starting a new farm to fork business. Because of donations and grant, conference prices will be set low for the attendee.

The next conference will be at 9 a.m. Feb. 10, 2018, Alcona Regional Farm Conference: Growing for Profit & Enjoyment in Northeast Michigan.

Participants will learn practical advice from experts on how to turn their garden, small farm or other profession into a thriving farm to table business. This is an ideal conference for purveyors of fresh produce, meats, honey, maple syrup, preserves, cheeses, baked goods, flowers, fermented products and more.

Attendees can choose from breakout sessions on a variety of topics: small business start-up, fundraising and financial planning, marketing, working with state and local government agencies, specific crop how-to, organic agriculture, making the most of northeast Michigan’s climate and soil type, food distribution, entrepreneurial success stories.

The conference will be held at Lost Lake Woods Club in Lincoln. An early bird fee of $20 is due before Jan. 27, 2018. After Jan. 27, it’s $35. The fee includes breakfast, lunch, breakout sessions, handouts and more.

A Meet & Greet Reception also is planned at 7 p.m. Feb. 9 for only $5. Register by Feb. 3, 2018, at InspirationAlcona.org, 736-3000 or at PO Box 506, Lincoln MI 48742. Make checks to Inspiration Alcona.

Rooms are available at a discounted rate at the Lodge of Lost Lake Woods Club. For lodging reservations, call 736-8197.

To learn more about the Farm to Fork Alcona movement, contact Judy MacNeill at 335-1402 or jmacneillrd@yahoo.com.