Crains Detroit Business has an interesting feature about how an old warehouse at the Grand Traverse Commons could become the hub for our region's local-food movement:
Discussion is percolating about developing the Commons into a regional food hub, with a year-round indoor farmer's market, processing centers and even a restaurant incubator with test kitchens — all housed in a building that used to prepare food for hospital patients and staff.
J.T. "Chip" Hoagland of Cherry Capital Foods in Traverse City is part of an ad-hoc group led by the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments, a regional economic planning organization.
"There's a warehouse and bakery building that had lots of coolers that was the centerpiece for food production on campus," Hoagland said. "The basic configuration is there."
One function for the potential food hub: Supplying the Traverse City Area Public Schools with fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Rob Sirrine, an educator with the Michigan State University Extension in Grand Traverse County and a champion of using the Commons as a food hub, said equipment is going to be purchased in the next three months that will process locally produced food and deliver it to the schools by this fall. For now, the processing will happen at Cherry Capital Foods, with a shift to the Commons if funding from a state grant goes through.
Read on for more about plans for the Grand Traverse Regional Market.
"What does this have to do with Leelanau?" you might ask. It's pretty simple - Leelanau is one of the farming engines that's driving our regional local food economy and efforts like this help small farmers get good prices for their food and get that food to consumers!