Leelanau Conservancy hosts “Farming and Food: Past, Present and Future”

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LeelanauConservancyLogoFrom staff reports

The Leelanau Conservancy is hosting a free Speaker Series and Kids Harvest Party event at the Suttons Bay High School on Saturday, Oct. 19 from 3 to 5 p.m.

The event, “Farming and Food: Past, Present, and Future” is Part Two of the Conservancy’s Leelanau: Looking Ahead Speaker Series.

“There is no doubt that agriculture is an essential part of Leelanau County’s landscape, economy, and cultural heritage,” says Brian Price, the Conservancy’s Executive Director. Fifty-five percent of Leelanau County, roughly 120,000 acres, is zoned for agricultural use. Agriculture in our county generates over 1,200 full and part time jobs and sales of agricultural products, combined with the processing and distribution, add over $45 million annually to our economy (Leelanau County Agricultural Fact Book, prepared by The Land Information Access Association).

The speaker part of the event will take place in the auditorium and will cover such topics as: What was farming in Leelanau County like 100 years ago? What are the most significant changes our farmers have experienced in recent years? And what opportunities will carry our farming and food community into a strong future? Come hear local farmers and food-system experts give their perspectives on farming in Leelanau County and our place amidst state- and country-wide agricultural trends.

Jim Nugent former District Horticulturalist for MSU Extension and Tom Nelson, Leelanau Conservancy Director of Farm Programs, will provide a brief history of agriculture in Leelanau County. Keynote speaker Rich Pirog, Senior Associate Director at the Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University, will address state-wide farming trends and the growth of local food networks.

A panel discussion will feature local farmers, food-system professionals, and land-use experts. Panelists will discuss the most significant opportunities and biggest challenges in our local agricultural economy today. They will also describe how they envision the future of farming and food in Leelanau County.

After the speaker program, refreshments will be provided by Idyll Farms, Nine Bean Rows, Tandem Ciders and Bardenhagen Farms.

Children of all ages are welcome at the Kids Harvest Party in the Suttons Bay High School Atrium area. Kids will visit farm animals, press cider, paint mini pumpkins, and learn about our local farms. The event is free but registration is appreciated for planning purposes. Register and learn more at leelanauconservancy.org or call (231) 256-9665.