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Organizers starting ‘locavore’ tourism project with workshop dinner

LINCOLN — A subgroup of Inspiration Alcona, named Farm to Fork Alcona, hopes to start a tourism and county promotion initiative that could bring more people to the community to enjoy the county’s unique resources.

Organizer Judy MacNeill said the project was started as a cohesive effort to brand Alcona County to the outside world.

“What is it is choosing to eat foods that have been grown locally, so instead of going with the big brands — choosing to get your broccoli from Mexico — you’re getting it from local farmers,” he said. “Their eggs, produce, meat and other farm items.”

MacNeill said the trend is all over the country as many choose to get their food items locally in the so-called “locavore” movement. She said many do not know that local farm products are readily available in Alcona County and the group hopes the county could serve as a destination location for individuals seeking locally grown foods.

“Alcona has sort of been lost in the shuffle (for tourism). Oscoda has been doing well, as well as Alpena. They are all branding behind a particular thing but Alcona hasn’t done that,” she said.

MacNeill said the opening campaign to get this started is with several events that will take place in September, including a spaghetti dinner at the Lost Lake Woods Resort on Sept. 18.

The $15 meal will feature a dinner made entirely of Michigan-made products, according to organizer Will St. John.

MacNeill said the event will kick off the Patronicity campaign to raise money to continue the program and to help fund a planned Alcona Regional Farm Conference that is planned to be held in February.

The main fundraising event will take place Sept. 30 at the Springport Golf Course with the Farm to Fork Alcona Workshop and Dinner, MacNeill said.

She said in addition to dinner David Klingenberger from The Brinery in Ann Arbor will conduct a workshop on methods of naturally fermenting foods.

MacNeill said fermenting is a great way to preserve foods.

“You hit the end of September and you have to do something with all the produce,” she said. “You naturally ferment it and now you have food that is put to good use, and it also produces probiotics a natural healthy byproduct for your body.”

Tickets for that event are on sale now by visiting www.inspriationalcona.org, she said. The registration cost is $50 a ticket. The meal will feature produce and other Alcona items from the ARA Farm Market, which will feature a mini farm market at the event.

MacNeill said the group will continue fundraising events throughout the year.

“The purpose of this, as well as our future endeavors, is to introduce the farm to fork movement and to raise some money in order to provide future workshop and the farm conference,” she said.

According to MacNeill the goal is to raise $7,500 for the continued work on the project.

“Hopefully as the movement grows it will entice local people to start growing things, and hopefully entice the grocery stores and the restaurants to use local products,” she said.

St. John said the new program fits well with Inspiration Alcona.

“We have been trying to get people here for the natural beauty in a setting where people can be creative. We started out being creative about art, writing and music, and now we’re talking about being creative as food as well,” he said.

MacNeill said a long-term goal of the program is to eventually create a documentary about the county and farm to fork.

“We have a lot of big plans,” she said.

Jason Ogden can be reached via email at jogden@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Jason on Twitter @jo_alpenanews.