The Mill in Glen Arbor will launch its long anticipated restaurant this fall in the historic Braemmer flour mill on the Crystal River. The Mill announced its Supper Club on Instagram today with 12 dates between mid-October and mid-December. According to Kelsey Duda, owner of Fernhaus Studios, which manages The Mill, supper club tickets will start at $75 per person.

Twenty-plus years ago, Diane Conners saw an opportunity to trade her work in journalism for a more diverse career. She began working with farmers, conservationists, policy makers and others committed to protecting the land, the environment and a way of life she’d come to treasure in Leelanau County. Turned out, it was turning to the land. She shifted gears and began working for the Michigan Land Use Institute—now the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities. Conners authored the book “Shared Abundance: Lessons in Building Community Around Locally Grown Food” just prior to her retirement. Groundwork Center dubs it “Part gorgeous, story-filled coffee-table book and part local food economy strategy manual.”

Chef Abra Berens

Chef Abra Berens has worked in Chicago, Ann Arbor, even Ireland. But she hasn’t forgotten her time in Leelanau County. That’s reflected in her continuing visits and efforts here. It’s also part and parcel of her cookbooks, including her latest, “Pulp: A Practical Guide to Cooking with Fruit,” which published last month. Like its predecessors, the book concentrates on one of the food groups. In this case, that’s fruit, complementing vegetables and grains. Berens will preside over a series of 50th anniversary dinners at Mawby Vineyards July 23, Aug. 20 and Sept. 17. She will also hold a book signing at Horizon Books on July 22.

There is nothing shy about a northern Michigan spring—grouse and turkeys heady with lust walk the roads bemused by approaching vehicles, the stuttering calls of sand hill cranes returning to fields that green while you’re watching, and a hillside that just yesterday was filled with decaying leaves is now covered with the verdant stems of ramps, writes Julie Zapoli, whose story about farm produce in Leelanau County features Bardenhagen Farms, Lively Farms, 9 Bean Rows, and MI Farm Co-op.

When Eric Nittolo, owner of Nittolo’s Seafood & Pizza in Lake Leelanau, travels to Europe, he brings a family entourage and they eat like royalty, night after night. With each plate, in each city, Eric challenges himself to learn something new, to bring culinary lessons home to Lake Leelanau. Every night on his trips to Italy, Spain and the Baltic countries, Eric took mental notes on how he could incorporate these culinary lessons back home. Now at Nittolo’s you can order a Tuscan wild boar pizza served with smoked mozzarella. And on May 17, a Spanish Tapas lounge will open at Nittolo’s.

Peninsula Provisions, located in the old Samaritan’s Closet Building in Lake Leelanau, is thrilled to announce their projected opening in June 2023. Owner and proprietor Kate Vilter Stassen, formerly of The Riverside Inn in Leland, and husband Coenraad Stassen, Brys Estate director of Winemaking and Estate manager have always been passionate about wine and food. It was Kate, however, who knew even before the sale of the Riverside in 2021 that owning and operating a wine and provisions shop was the next step in her career.

French Valley Vineyard, located at 3655 South French Road near Cedar, will host an ice wine picking event for the public on Jan. 31 at 10 a.m. During the event, attendees can join vineyard manager Tomas Moreno and senior winemaker Blake Lougheed in the harvest of riesling grapes for ice wine production. 

Consider Tomas Moreno a matchmaker for Leelanau County’s migrant farmworkers. The soft-spoken, good-natured Texas native and Leland Public School graduate with family roots in Mexico manages 54 vineyard acres north of Lake Leelanau for Bel Lago and French Valley wineries. He interprets for and leads a crew of Hispanic farm workers, indispensable to the harvest, some of whom arrive in northern Michigan on H-2A temporary work visas. Tomas, who turns 41 next month, also recently began making fresh tortillas with his wife Julieta to sell to the local Latino community.

Sometime in late August, Jen and Nic Welty, who own 9 Bean Rows bakery on M-204 between Lake Leelanau and Suttons Bay, will use their new, state-of-the-art, wood-fired clay convection oven for the first time. The oven, which measures 12 feet in diameter, occupies 144 square feet, weighs 70,000 pounds, and emits exceptional radiant heat, was built on-site by a team of four Barcelonians during one week in mid-July.

“Growing up on a farm was a wonderful experience. I was surrounded by nature and family,” said Remington Rice, a Benzie County native who represents the fifth generation to grow up on the same family farm in rural Michigan. “Of course, not everything was perfect. The men in the family didn’t really talk about stress or how they were doing. I never heard my grandpa say he was stressed or sad; you just kept working and didn’t talk about it. I think there was this belief that if you don’t acknowledge it, then it’ll go away on its own.” Rice joined Michigan State University (MSU) Extension as a health and farm stress educator in August 2021.