Michigan Food & Agriculture

Northern Michigan is shaped by food. Our orchards, farms and vineyards create the landscape. A burgeoning culinary scene defines many of our downtowns. And the agriculture, tourism and hospitality industries dominate our economies. 

Michigan Wines

Bernie Rink had been growing wine grapes on his property overlooking Lake Leelanau for more than a decade when he opened his tasting room in 1976. His vineyard was the first commercial vineyard in the region.

A legal dispute between an Elk Rapids food processor and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is headed back to court. Burnette Foods filed the lawsuit in 2012, claiming an administrative board that controls the cherry industry is antiquated.

Owner Bill Sherman says the cherry board has had a negative effect on his business.

“We have huge amounts of imports coming into the U.S. of tart cherry products and at the same time, we are not allowed to sell our products under the threat of severe financial penalties," says Sherman.

Aaron Selbig

If you’ve picked up a box of fresh strawberries recently from a local grocery store, there’s a good chance they were handpicked by a migrant farm worker.

The workers have been coming up from their homes in Mexico or Texas for generations. But in recent years, local farmers have noticed there are fewer workers coming to northern Michigan. They’re saying the problem is likely to get much worse.

Steve Bardenhagen grew up on his family’s farm in Leelanau County.

Traverse City Whiskey Company

Small distillers in northern Michigan would get a big tax break under a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate last week by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI).

He visited Traverse City Whiskey Company on Tuesday to promote the legislation, which would lower the federal excise tax on liquor from $13.50 per gallon to $2.70.

Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center

May 17th, 2002 was the official date when tart cherry trees reached full bloom in northern Michigan that year. The orchards looked normal but most of the cherry buds had been destroyed in April by freezing cold.

The Leelanau Enterprise ran a headline that summer that said “No Cherries.”

Ben LaCross is a second generation grower on a farm north of Cedar. He says nobody could recall a cherry crop failing so completely.

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