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Speakers, attendees gather to Alcona’s 2nd annual Farm to Fork

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Lorrie White, of Nifty Hoops in Ann Arbor, talked about hoop houses, at Farm to Fork Alcona’s second annual Small Farm Conference on Saturday at Lost Lake Woods Club in Lincoln.

LINCOLN — About 90 small farm owners, aspiring farmers and local food enthusiasts attended Farm to Fork Alcona’s second annual small farm conference at Lost Lake Woods Club.

Attendees were able to hear from speakers from around the state to learn more about niche markets, how to extend their seasonal crops with hoop houses and how to better market their business.

Maureen Castern, Farm to Fork Alcona committee member, said she wanted those who attended the conference to get support, encouragement and information they need to be successful.

“Hopefully we’ll be helping people, among other things, to learn how to make sure they’re making a family living, a sustainable living off of their efforts,” she said, adding they offer wonderful products that most people can’t get any other way.

Bill and Billie Thompson of White Barn Gardens in Harrisville attended the conference to become more knowledgeable about what’s happening with small farms in northern Michigan. Billie has a greenhouse and the Thompsons participate as vendors in the farmers market in Lincoln.

“I need to know what’s happening — what’s the next move,” Billie said.

The Thompson’s were most excited to learn about growing hops and Bill wanted to hear the update on the Northern Market, a regional food hub that is planned to open in Grayling next year.

Doug Paulus, who is the project manager for the Northern Market, was one of the events keynote speakers. Tricia Phelps, chief executive officer of Taste the Local Difference, also addressed attendees as a keynote speaker.

Committee Member Mary Ellen Jones said she wanted the small farmers and aspiring small farmers to meet other farmers, network and combine resources to be more successful. She said the event is about coming together as a community.

“We hope with this Farm to Fork conference that they know once a year that there are going to be a group of like-minded people here and they can share ideas and inspire each other and help each other,” she said.

Farm to Fork Alcona is a committee of Inspiration Alcona, which promotes the farm to table movement. Both organizations are dedicated to improving the economy and quality of life in the community through cultural activities.

For more information on Farm to Fork Alcona or Inspiration Alcona, visit www.inspirationalcona.org.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at cnelson@thealpenanews.com or 989-358-5687.

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