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Buying "Local" - Detroit area, SE Mich

Hi there hounds! I've been reading a lot about the local food movement and am wondering if anyone has found good ways of supporting Michigan farmers in cooking at home and restaurants that buy local? I know that Eastern Market is a great source, but wondering what other co-ops, ect are out there. I'm just at the beginning of this - so feel free to educate me!

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  1. Hi, check out www.maplecreekfarm.com. They are a local organic farm with a CSA (community supported agriculture). You join on a yearly basis and for 20 weeks, receive a share of whatever is harvested that week. They have drop off/pick up points all over the metro detroit area, and you are always welcome to visit the farm and get your hands dirty weeding or harvesting. It's a bit pricey, ($700) but well worth it if you belive in the idea. And, you can always split a share with friends!

    1 Reply
    1. re: ferndalefood

      I was just going to post Maple Creek Farm too. I moved to MI last spring and had my first CSA season with them. I've rejoined for another. I don't know what I'd do without it. I can't think of a better way to have weekly organic veggies throughout the growing season, without going to the farmer's market early and often.

      I hear they will be selling salad greens at the Royal Oak Farmer's market starting mid to late March so I will probably visit until the CSA starts a few months later...

    2. Thanks to both of you! I need to get into the habit of checking out the RO market and Eastern market on more of a regulary basis. I am very new to this but am a strong believer in supporting local business - which this clearly is. Has anyone been to the Eastern Market in the winter? What can I expect?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Ludlows23

        If there is local produce available in Michigan during the winter, you will likely find it at the Eastern Market, which has a good number of local farmers. Do realize that many farmers in the Detroit/Windsor areas also utilize greenhouses 12 month a year.

        Also, Windsor has a public market (check with the Windsor, ON city website for location) that brings in fresh produce from Southern Ontario which is one of largest agricultural centers in Canada. It is well worth the trip across the border for the food alone.

        1. re: Ludlows23

          The same commercial crud that you find the rest of the year. I know I won't win any brownie points for saying that but IMO the Eastern market is a very poor place to shop. 99% of the stalls sell commercial product purchased from the warehouses. There are very few "local" farmers seasonally. However even theese are commercial operations and lack the flavor and connection you get from dealing with some of the smaller farmers available at other markets. There are much better farmers market choices in season. In addition to the ones already mentioned Rochester has one on Saturdays that is very nice. All local farmers mostly focising on organic not huge commercial operations. A very nice change.

          Crooked Creek Farm dairy is local as well as Gurnsey's. The main web link has lots of MI products.



        2. You can expect to find mostly California produce this time of year at Eastern Market. Root vegetables and apples are about it, though we did find some beans grown in a Michigan greenhouse last week. Local honey, maple syrup, eggs, and locally processed meats are always available. Prices in Royal Oak tend to be two and three times higher than Eastern Market.

          Home canning is a great way to eat local produce in the winter. We started with applesauce and fruit jams, and eventually got into tomatoes, salsa, BBQ sauce, chili, and spaghetti sauce w/meat. I don't have time to can all the things we use in a year, so I typically buy labor intensive things like corn, beans, and tomato paste at a Spartan store. (Spartan is headquartered in Grand Rapids, MI.) I also buy Spartan brand cereal, crackers, olives, cooking oil, baking supplies and frozen vegetables. Faygo, Dairy Fresh, Jiffy, Pioneer Sugar, and tortillas made in Mexicantown are also staples in our house.

          The Ypsilanti Food Co-op stocks Michigan grains including brown rice in bulk.

          The condiment aisle is a good place to look; just check the labels. I was surprised by the number of Detroit products on the shelves, and in nearly every case, they were as good or better than the products I had been buying out of habit.

          Our local buying efforts eventually led us to move to Hamtramck where we buy bread at locally owned bakery, a variety of ethnic meats from butcher shops, and pierogi made by people in the neighborhood.

          It's exciting to hear that another person is trying this. It was hard at first, checking every label at the grocery and finding new recipes. Five years later, our food quality is higher and we have relationships with many of the people who grow and prepare our food. I hope you'll post updates.

          1. Ann Arbor Farmer's Market is local produce. Also, Contact Eve (the restaurant) in Ann Arbor. They support local produce and would be able to provide you with a list of local sources. Hmmm, I'm gettin' hungry.

            1. It bears noting that if you are a meativore , there are two wonderful pork farms who are only available at Eastern Market from about Thanksgiving to Easter ( i.e. winter ) . Local , excellent pork very fresh and very tasty . I have a batch of belly well on it's way to being bacon in the fridge right now . I love the produce too , don't get me wrong , but the meat must be spoken for . The RO market also has a very good chicken farm , cured meat guy , and usually a great dairy farm that makes awesome ice cream , all local . Both RO and Eastern Market are good choices in the winter for local stuff , but summer is when this area shines .

              2 Replies
              1. re: GoalieJeff

                Are these farmers operating from trailers inside the sheds? We bought a great rack of ribs from one a couple of weeks ago.

                1. re: GoalieJeff

                  Can you let us know the location/ name?

                2. Check this one out:
                  I haven't ordered from them but it looks like just what the Dr. ordered. Does anyone have a source for freshly harvested chickens?

                  1. Hi Sony,
                    All the below suggestions are good. We had a subscription to Maple Creek, but split with two other families--I frankly found the pickings kind of slim for the price. If you Google community sustainable agriculture you'll find some other farms as well.

                    You used to be able to go out Adams road till it dead-ended and turn left and there was always "the corn guy" (as we referred to him)=great corn and vegs. Of course there all the local U-pick as well, Middlberry Farm has great raspberries.

                    If you find other sources please post. Of course, the obvious is grow your own!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: berkleybabe

                      Berkleybabe, I agree with you. We had a membership to Maple Creek last year and I had more Swiss Chard and green peppers than I knew what to do with. I know it was a bad year, but the pickings were slim and sometimes I would go to the Rochester Farmers Market and they had better and different stuff than what I got in my share. I know they try hard, but for $700 I found that I was still going to Nino's for more produce. I decided to pass this year, but I will buy from them at the farmer's market.

                    2. Goalie,
                      So where do you find this source at the market? And how are you making bacon --that rocks!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: berkleybabe

                        The pork guys are both inside the central shed ( I forget it's # , forgive me ) and they have regular glass counter style meat coolers so you can see and ask for exactly what you want . As for the aforementioned " 99% sell commercial product purchased from the warehouses " comment , yes many vendors do sell ripe produce from the local distributors , that's why so much of it is so cheap . However all vendors must be licensed , and display said license so you can see where they are located . Most farmers are indeed local ( SE Michigan ) , and many are not around in winter , and we all know why . The pork guys are local and are only around from about Thanksgiving to about Easter . After that , they are back on the farm , growing more piggys . And yes I have asked them about that . As for my bacon , I'd love to say it's a secret , but it's too easy . Buy one pork belly ( about 12-15 lbs , $ 20.00 to $25.00 ) , take home , cut in half , rub with salt cure , ( 1 lb kosher salt to 2 oz. pink salt , a nitrate curing agent available online or at the butcher supply shop on Gratiot across the street from the Gratiot Central market across the freeway . ) a little black pepper , a little garlic powder , and maybe some crushed bay leaves . Place each belly half in a two gallon ziplock bag and place in fridge . Leave for a week , turning every 24 hours or so . The salt will draw out moisture and create a brine which will cure the bacon . After a week or 10 days , depending on the thickness ( go for the thick ones ) , remove from bags and rinse . Pat dry and let surface dry . Place in hot smoker ( a Webber grill with indirect charcoal heat and soaked hickory chips for me .) and smoke until meat reached 150 degrees . Cut off rind , ( save for beans and such ) and hey presto , you have the best bacon ever . Cut , fry and enjoy . Thus concludes todays pork curing lesson . Many more are available upon request . ; )

                        1. re: GoalieJeff

                          Thanks, Goalie --so these guys are in the sheds, not at the Gratiot Market, eh? I think I've seen them. The bacon seems really simple--how awesome to serve your own homemade! I bow to the master. Can smoking work with a gas grill?


                          1. re: berkleygary

                            Yes, Turn your grill way down. Soak your wood chips and put them inside aluminum foil. Make small slices in the foil. I smoke pork this way on my gas grill. It takes several hours but it's worth the effort a couple of times a year.

                            1. re: berkleygary

                              1: Yes . in the big middle shed . Gratiot Central Market is a whole other post subject , so much goodness there , too .
                              2: Yeah , homemade bacon is super easy , and way better than almost everything you can buy at your average store . Also , I'm not a master ( yet ) , I cannot make good ribs to save my life :(
                              3: As Docsknot noted , yes gas grills work just fine for smoking with a little practice . As an aside , a rotisserie attachment in a gas grill and a leg of lamb combined with aforementioned smoke can make VERY good things happen indeed . But thats another story . Enjoy the pork !

                        2. It's really, really hard to buy local this time of year in Michigan. If you live near Ann Arbor.... I have bought a farm share from Needle Lane Farm in Tipton - it's about $300 for a single share, which I split with another family, and it was good and more vegetables than we could eat. You can pick up at the AA Farmer's Market (which doesn't allow anything not grown locally) or at Morgan and York.

                          I buy locally raised beef from TMZ Farms in Pinckney. You can pick up at the farm or at Pinckney Hardware. They also sell at the AA Farmer's Market and a few other stores around AA. They also sell buffalo.

                          Here's the links:


                          2 Replies
                          1. re: momskitchen

                            Thanks for the links Moms! I noticed today that Crooked Creek Farm is now selling beef as well.

                            1. re: Docsknotinn

                              I just read your info regarding a RO market you went to that sold ground chicken. What is that and where is it. I have been looking for ground chicken for months. I have called suppliers, dealers and numerous stores. Can you help me out with this? Thank you smartin0302

                          2. Well, I'm on my way with a little more local input in my food selections - I went to the RO farmers market on Saturday and picked up local apples, spinach, organic chicken (thighs and ground chicken) and a dozen eggs. There were also 2 different stands selling beef (one also had buffalo), 2 cheese vendors and lots of veggie places. I've looked into the various CSA's for a produce share, but its just me, so that would be way too many veggies and I am not the type to start canning/storing extra produce. I think I will stick to the farmers markets.

                            also - this week the free press had an article about an organic catering service that is expanding into food delivery - purefood2u is their name. I think that they are focused on local food as well.

                            1. Bello Vino market in Ann Arbor (on Plymouth Rd.) carries local produce when available and has their own farm off of M-14 that raises lamb. It's excellent.


                              1 Reply
                              1. Hi, I just went to a meeting for the downtown Ypsilanti farm market at Key Bank on Tuesdays. I am going to be a vendor there selling buffalo and beef and cow and goat cheese, honey and more all produced in Michigan, all hormone and pesticide free. The other vendors are local as well, veggies, cut flowers, baked breads, fruits and more. It starts on May 6th and I think the start time is 1:00 p.m. I own a business who has vowed to buy, grow and distribute local foods as much as possible. I hope my chickens start laying lots of eggs soon so I can bring a supply of them as well. I sell only pesticide and hormone free and feed my chickens 100% organic feed. I think the market in Ypsi is going to be a big success this year as the vendors currently signed up are very high quality. I do know that sometimes in the first month we are allowed to bring some non-michigan products in but they still must be USA grown...and we are pretty much all anti-non-local so we are really trying hard to keep it Michigan even in that first month. I think you will be pleased.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: brendajo

                                  Wish Ypsi was closer...my big truck uses lots of gas , wish I could walk ...Mass transit would be nice , but that's another dream...I'll try to make it maybe once a month . Ypsi isn't really local for me , but good luck !

                                  1. re: brendajo

                                    brendajo, just curious--why not the A2 farmers market?

                                    1. re: coney with everything

                                      I realize you posted this a year ago, but I'll still answer the question -- AA farmer's market has had a waiting list for a long time.

                                      But in the meantime, there are more and more farmer's markets springing up, like in Chelsea, and yes, Ypsilanti. Of course, these guys are from Michigan, but some of the farmers come a long way to get there. Not many farms in Washtenaw County these days.

                                      1. re: Chris Weber

                                        More's the pity, if you ask me. I lived in an apartment at Hewitt and Ellsworth in the mid eighties (Ypsi-tucky), and one of my favorite things about it was that there was a cornfield across the street--it was the edge of town at the time. Now the cornfield has been replaced by a Walmart. Ugh

                                        Brendajo or Chris, how did the Ypsi farmer's market go last summer?

                                  2. There's a few websites that offer information about all CSA's in your area. You can search by general location and get more info...
                                    If you're not buying for a full family, many CSAs offer half shares as well, which we've found to be great for a 2-person household. Cheaper as well!

                                    Good luck, and happy eating!

                                    1. Two Creeks Organics is considering a more central drop off point as well- the website says Birmingham-Farmington Hills-Bloomfield, but from the email I received, Ferndale may be another possibility. I think they're having issues with the contact form on their website (we tried twice and I finally emailed and got a nice response), so I would suggest emailing them directly. They're $560 for a full share for the season. Their website is www.twocreeksorganics.com.

                                      1. Hello. A great way to support local food is to check out slowfooddetroit.org or slowfoodhuronvalley.com It is an international organization that supports local food. It is a non profit that you can join as a member.

                                        1. The Produce Station on State Street in Ann Arbor is all (I believe) products from Michigan. If it's not all locally produced products then that's at least primarily what they have.

                                          1. There was a very small story (more of a mention) today in the Free press about someone that will be on NPR talking about buying locally. Can anyone tell me the name of the 25 year old they mention in the article?

                                            You can send it to me at showtime@theapollo.org