The Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail will hold its Small Plates event on Thursday, Aug. 17, from 6-9 p.m. Enjoy a glass of wine paired with a gourmet tapas dish in the tasting rooms during this progressive dinner. Many wineries partner with local chefs to prepare and serve each delicious pairing. Culinary aficionados will enjoy this upscale, gourmet food event.

Chocolate making is an incredible journey. For Grocer’s Daughter this journey starts in Ecuador. Near the small town of Calceta, in western Ecuador, sits the Fortaleza Del Valle cocoa cooperative. Nearly 900 small, family cacao farms rely on the cooperative to obtain expensive Fair Trade and Organic certifications, carefully process their beans and ensure that they will be sold for a fair, living wage.

Taylor Moore sits cheerfully under the shady trees outside the downtown Traverse City café Morsels on a brisk day. It’s not his shift at work, and he’s watching the construction vehicles at work across the street with a smile, not car envy. “I’ve always wanted to drive a truck, since I was a kid.” He has his own super-mobile of choice, the Food Rescue box truck, and driving it is one of the perks of his job. “There’s something really pleasant about it. People are really friendly on the road, and you’ve got to concentrate, and it’s a big, loud vehicle … it’s sweet.”

One of the most welcome sights for farmers market goers come springtime is the appearance of morel mushrooms. This intense, earthy fungus, a natural for pasta, omelets, quiches and pizza recipes, can be found at markets during the month of May.

During these busy summer days in the Leelanau fields, Marcelino sometimes feels as though he carries the weight of two migrant farmworkers. He once picked grapes, cherries and apples alongside 12-15 other workers, but this year there are only seven splitting their time between two small farms.

June brings a veritable explosion of colorful produce to farmers market stalls, and there are few offerings more welcome than this month’s first fruit: strawberries. While not everyone knows that the bright red orbs aren’t botanically berries (those fruits produced from one flower with one ovary and containing seeds on the inside), most know that hands down, strawberries are a universally favorite fruit.

If you’re like most people, you may pass by some of the offerings at the early farmers markets because you don’t care for them. At least you think you don’t care for them — because of how they look, your unfamiliarity with preparing them — or an unfortunate experience when first tasting them.

One of the first harbingers of spring in the veggie world is asparagus, a popular early farmers market pick. People are so enthusiastic about asparagus, said third generation farmer Harry Norconk — who along with wife Barbara owns Norconk Asparagus Farm between Empire and Honor — that they begin inquiring about availability as early as April. “When you get a sunny day about 50 degrees, people start calling to ask when the asparagus will be ready,” he said.

The Michigan legislature is considering whether to continue, or expand, a new state pilot project that is increasing business from schools for a significant number of farms and related food companies throughout the state and in Leelanau County.

On Wednesday, April 5, at noon at the Leelanau County Government Center the Farm Labor Task Force of the League of Women Voters Leelanau County will highlight the impact current immigration policy has on area agricultural employers and their workforce. The forum is titled “Immigration Challenges in Leelanau: Who Will Harvest Our Produce?”