Patty Cantrell:

Patty’s vision built an idea into a community. Her drive to do outreach, direct people towards a singular purpose and motivate to make systems change a reality was a large part of establishing collaboration as a common theme in Northwest Michigan. Patty is widely held as the original convener around collaborative work that would eventually lead to the food and farming network. Working with the Michigan Land Use Institute as senior policy specialist, Patty saw the potential and importance of local food and farming in this region and started a movement to build its future. She currently works with Regional Food Solutions as strategic communication and project development and researches, writes and speaks on local food communities, and the potential they serve as economic development. Check out what she’s up to today: http://www.regionalfoodsolutions.com/about/


Jim Slyter:

Jim worked as the Get Farming Program Coordinator at Michigan Land Use Institute and had a key role in providing staff services to the network. He expanded the MLUI programming under food and farming programs, which included securing, a USDA RMA Grant which has continued to come to our region to this day, through partnerships involving MLUI, Crosshatch, the land conservancies, the Horticultural Research Station, and MSU Extension, among others. This grant has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars of farmer training in our region over the years. He and his wife started a CSA model with their family farm, and played a role in the national CSA movement. His personal experience as a farmer really helped to inform the Network’s strategies and brought the energy of a retired grower. He was the first recipient of the Chapman Award in 2013.


Diane Conners:

Diane has been the champion of farm to school, and has lofted northwest Michigan as a national leader in farm to school policy. One of the founding members of the Food and Farming Network, she worked very closely with Patty Cantrell and Jim Slyter at MLUI in strengthening our local food system. She has had many victories over the years with systems change, like helping get Double Up Food Bucks to the region, and is very well known for her work with Ten Cents a Meal, a state-funded school lunch program that funds locally sourced acquisition of produce into grant-awarded schools in Michigan. She continues her work at Groundwork, where Ten Cents a Meal continues to grow with state funding. She was the third recipient of the Chapman award in 2015. She continues her work on farm to school with Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities: https://www.groundworkcenter.org/contact/staff-directory.html

Brian Bourdages:

Brian has been working to preserve farming and farmland with The Leelanau Conservancy and The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and has worked with Tamarack Holdings, a subsidiary of Cherry Capital Foods. Deeply rooted in the land and people of Northwest Michigan, Brian has been a integral part of the Food and Farming Network since its conception, and has been a huge assent in connecting important ideas, plans and citizens and pointing them toward a common a common goal of maintaining sufficient farmland, and viable farm operations, to retain a long-term business environment for agriculture in the region.


Bill Palladino:

Bill has worn many hats over the years. Working as the economic development director for the council of governments (now Networks Northwest) he first became involved with the Network and people associated with the Network in the interest of developing the economy through the important food and farming businesses that were growing in the area. He eventually took on the lead role with Taste the Local Difference before passing it on to Tricia Phelps. He also was the Chair of the Network 2013–2017. His creativity and innovation has helped evolve many of organizations he’s been involved with, and his love of vibrancy within the community has helped foster growth.


Mark Coe:

Co-founder of Farm to Freezer along with Brandon Seng, Mark’s efforts in farm to school made him an agricultural leader in farm to institution work . During the 2011 Summit, he presented his work in supplying area schools with produce for Lutz farms. In 2012, a conversation between him and Brandon Seng began Michigan Farm to Freezer, which now operates both in Traverse City and Detroit.


Chip Hoagland:

Chip, a leader who is unafraid to take on large challenges, took aim at an important community need. A central aggregation and distribution center was a key piece to an already robust food system, and by purchasing Cherry Capital foods and growing it significantly, he made that piece a reality. Cherry Capital Foods’ present Traverse City location is in what used to be an old hockey arena, and now exists as a state-of-the-art facility that stores and distributes local food to businesses and institutions. With his innovative vision of new avenues for local food system infrastructure, Chip has made Northwest Michigan a leader in food systems change. You can find him here: http://www.tamarackholdings.com/our-team/

Jennifer Schaap:

Jen has worked for Crosshatch, helping grow guild programs, which are spaces for peer-to-peer mentorship, mentoring and demonstrating everything small scale food and farming. She has moved to Groundwork Center, where she coordinates Groundworks’ food and farming program in the northern farms foodshed. You can find her here: https://www.groundworkcenter.org/contact/staff-directory.html


Amanda Kik and Brad Kik:

Founders of ISLAND, now Crosshatch, Amanda and Brad have been at the Network discussions since the beginning. Their commitment to building community, local agriculture, and positive cultural change through Crosshatch’s work makes them an asset to our region. You can find their website here: http://www.crosshatch.org/


Scott Smith:

Scott, along with Wendy, Jen and Larry, founded LFA in the interest of creating a space to talk about local food system issues, and connecting people around local food system work in the Petoskey-Charlevoix area. He remains a center member of all of the Local Food Alliance’s work, and the Agribusiness task force. Follow Scott and the rest of the Local Food Alliance here: https://www.facebook.com/LocalFoodAllianceOfNorthernMichigan/?ref=br_rs


Larry Dyer:

A founding member of the Local Food Alliance, a satellite organization of the Food and Farming Network, and a Agricultural Educator with Holistic Management International. Larry’s involvement with the Northern Farms Foodshed has led him to connecting people to ideas by hosting workshops, educational sessions, LFA potlucks, and other events. He also partnered with the Network on a Food Access survey at local food pantries. You can find him here: https://holisticmanagement.org/certified-educators/larry-dyer/


Brandon Seng:

Founder of the Manistee Community Kitchen, which provides training and support for low-income families looking to gain access to more fruits and vegetables. Along with Mark Coe, Brandon helped found Farm to Freezer, which provides food distribution and storage for locally grown, flash frozen produce. Check out MI Farm to Freezer here:https://mifarmtofreezer.com/


Kathie Maldonado:

Kathie was a Traverse City resident who advocated on her own behalf for food assistance programs in the area. Her activity helped move forward the initiative to get Double Up Food Bucks into the Sara Hardy Farmers market, which was successful.


Susan Cocciarelli:

Susan, through her role as staff to MSU’s Center For Regional Food Systems and her work with Networks Northwest, was instrumental in serving as a liaison to activities at MSU and with food system work in other parts of the state. Susan also championed some key research projects, including the Farmland Succession Study, completed by MSU’s Center For Regional Food Systems by herself and Dr. Steve Miller. A study which has provided the specific numbers regarding farmland that will experience succession throughout the state in the next 10 to 15 years. This data was also parsed for the 5-country region by Dr. Miller—bringing light to the fact that 83,000 acres of active farmland in the region (an area five times as big as the entire Old Mission Peninsula!) is slated to change hands in that timeframe, and that efforts to ensure this farmland stays in active use should be a central concern of the Network.


Don Coe:

Don’s business and agricultural expertise made him a key player in representing the business side of food system development in our region. Founder of Black Star Farms, the location of the 2010 Farm Route to Prosperity Summit, his commitment to advance the success of this agricultural region has helped steadily grow the reach of Network. He is key in connecting the Food and Farming Network with the Michigan good food charter, and was a member of the Michigan commission of agricultural and rural development for two terms.


Rob Sirrine:

Rob became extension agent for Leelanau County in 2007, going on to lead hops outreach, education and research for MSUE. Rob was key in his role as a point person, connecting the Network to MSU, and the Center for Regional Food Systems, and served as the first official chair of the Network. Under Rob’s leadership, the network pursued funding to develop a regional Food Hub, and a minimal processor of fresh fruit and vegetables. This project was funded by the Michigan Development Corporation and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Find him here: https://www.canr.msu.edu/people/rob_sirrine

Evan Smith:

Evan was a key player in establishing a food hub as a major asset for the food and farming community in our region. Evan worked as the CEO of Cherry Capital Foods, and now runs his own consulting firm, Alden Services, which helps connect farm business owners to resources in the area. He continues his work as a managing partner at Alden Services.


Jim Bardenhagen:

Jim was extension director in Leelanau County for many years until his retirement, when the position was taken over by Rob Sirrine. He was one of the first established family fruit farms to diversify into local agricultural practices. He is well known for being a part the first farm-to-school victories, in which he worked with MLUI to get his potatoes and apples into the school lunch program at Traverse City Central Grade School. Jim was a champion for a branding vehicle to call out local foods in the marketplace—always a voice for this need, which has been firmly established through the TLD program.


Wendy Weiland:

Wendy’s professional career as a farm business consultant naturally made her suited to facilitate connections between growers and community leaders. With her ability to connect diverse constituents, and herself being raised on, and helping to run a family farm operation, she has also been a key leader and nexus to the farm community throughout the network’s history. She currently is the Network’s Vice-Chair along with Sharron May, and also leads the Local Food Alliance, a Petoskey-based organization whose work coincides with the Network, with a more central focus. She was the second recipient of the Chapman Award in 2014. Find her here: http://www.canr.msu.edu/people/wendy_wieland
Bob Russell:

Bob and his wife, Sally Van Vleck, founded the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council. They also set up the non-profit Neahtawanta Research and Education Center, which sponsors numerous events related to peace and justice, including the annual Bioneers Conference. Bob was a thought-leader in community resiliency and helped the Food and Farming Network focus toward its central goals at its conception. He also provided help in creating the first website. Bob’s passion was infectious and he was instrumental in reminding the group of the critical importance of their work. Unfortunately, Bob passed away too soon, but his impact on the region leaves a lasting impact.

Kelly Lively:

Kelly’s involvement and passion for local food systems as well as grassroots political organization makes her a key connector to important political issues. Chair of TC350, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Ag team member and grassroots organization, she is dedicated to inform and act on climate change issues. Kelly currently also works as the policy and outreach specialist at Cherry Capital foods. Lively currently serves as the Network’s chair. Find her here: http://cherrycapitalfoods.com/staff


Heather Ratliff:

Heather’s passion for local food systems and skill in organizing people and ideas made her an excellent leader in the Network in recent years. She served as a Network chair through 2015–2018 and was a supervisor for all three VISTAs. She was instrumental in the creation of the five task force one-sheets, and organizing and emceeing the Food and Farming Network Summits. She works as an Institutional Sales Representative for Cherry Capital Foods. You can find her here: http://cherrycapitalfoods.com/staff

Rod Robinson:

Chair of the the Agri-Business Generation Task Force. From 2016 until late 2017. The Agribusiness team had representation from the governmental, business, finance, education and producer sectors. This task force focused on consolidating information for financing and capital options for small growers and producers, working toward a consolidated database of available/underutilized infrastructure for food growing and production (community kitchens, cold storage, equipment, etc.). A later effort explored options for improving labor availability and housing for local food workers.

Tricia Phelps:

Tricia started out as an Intern at Taste the Local Difference, the Local Food Marketing Agency derived from Michigan Land Use Institute. After working with Bill to develop TLD’s outreach across the state, relationships and food outlets, and listings, among other services to the community, she now is the marketing agency’s CEO. Tricia leads the Local Food Sales Task Force with the Food and Farming Network. Find her here: https://www.localdifference.org/contact/our-team.html

Meghan Mcdermott:

Meghan is the Food and Farming Program Director at Groundwork Center, and oversees everything Food and Farming for that organization. She also works on the Northwest Food Coalition, a group of food pantries, and food rescue operations that work collaboratively in food access work in our region. With her work with these groups and community leaders, she has worked to end hunger in our region, provide healthy meals to all people and boosting the local food economy in the process. She is the task force leader for the Food Access Task Force for the Network. Find her here: https://www.groundworkcenter.org/contact/staff-directory.html


Sharron May:

Sharron, and her husband, Paul, run The May Farm, where they raise grass-fed beef and other products in Benzie County, and she is the Vice-Chair of the Network. She is the member of the her local Farm Bureau chapter and was a delegate to the Michigan Farm Bureau’s Policy Committee in 2017, where she was an advocate for many issues of key importance to the Network, Sharron is a champion of sustainable agricultural practices in both her farming operations, and her policy advocacy work. Find the May farm’s website here: http://www.themayfarm.com/


Carol Danley:

Carol’s VISTA term occurred from 2015–2016, and during that time she helped with the Summit, planned a series of film-screenings of “In Defense of Food,” and coordinated the first one-sheet infographic documents, among the daily VISTA work of helping the Network operate smoothly and maintain its social media presence. Carol was key in defining the role of the VISTA within the Network.


Maddy Baroli:

Maddy’s VISTA term occurred from 2016–2017. Her worked focused on developing the Mini-grant document, which presented several small, creative projects which worked to address areas of need within each task force’s area. She also helped secure grant funding for the redesign and reprint of the task force one-sheets, which will be carried out in the next VISTA term, coordinated the Summit, including forming partnerships with Livewell Manistee and Livewell Wexford.


Connor Drexler:

Connor was a VISTA with the Network From 2017–2018. He coordinated the redesign of the one-sheets, a film screening of “Dolores,” the Summit, and a Rural Food Access Survey project funded through the Center for Regional Food Systems.


William Koucky:

Recipient of the 2016 Chapman Award, Bill’s ability to address a community need made him the perfect candidate for the Chapman Award, and his company, Grand Traverse Culinary Oils and Flours, stands as a vital asset to the community. Today the company works with canola oil, sunflower oil, and stone ground flours, non GMO. Find their website here: http://www.gtculinaryoils.com/


Sally and George Shetler:

Recipient of the 2017 Chapman Award. George and Sally Shetler’s Family dairy, a three-generation dairy farm in Kalkaska, Michigan, produces high-quality milk, butter and ice cream, utilizing returnable bottles for customers.


Kim Baker:

Recipient of the 2018 Chapman Award. Kim works as the executive director of Manna Food project, a food rescue operation that works with area food pantries in Emmet, Charlevoix, and Antrim Counties. Kim’s dedication to feeding families is coupled with his passion for local agriculture. Kim not only parktakes in gleaning operations, and accepts local food donations to area partner pantries, but pays farmers for the highest quality local produce. Manna can be found here: http://mannafoodproject.org/