In the News

  • Waterford Schools Meet MI Farmer 



    We're proud of our partnership with Waterford School District to provide them with fresh, local apples. We've gone into their schools to hold mini farmers markets and taste tests, and this past Fall some of their students came out to the farm to learn more about us. Check out this video to see their visit and learn more about Brookwood.



  • Homegrown and served without a moan


    A program designed to increase schools’ use of local produce is cooking up resources for K-12 school food and nutrition directors so they can better incorporate healthy Michigan foods into cafeteria meals.


    The effort by a group called Cultivate Michigan is part of the trend pushing local produce into meal plans in large institutions, including schools and hospitals.


    “People are more educated than ever about the benefits of healthy eating,” said Barbie Ward-Thomas, the food service director at Gwinn Area Community Schools that participated in the project.


    The program provided school menu recipes incorporating Michigan products, Kaitlin Koch Wojciak, Community Food Systems educator in southeastern Michigan,

    said. The program targets cooks and kitchen supervisors who deal directly with the food.


    Recipes included a Michigan salad with kale, lettuce, cherries, carrots, green peppers and sweet and spicy dressing. A vegetable medley included roasted root veggies with carrots, parsnips and potatoes, Wojciak said. A stoplight soup included Michigan dried navy beans and red, yellow and green peppers. For breakfast, the group suggested a yogurt parfait highlighted frozen and fresh fruits.


    This raised awareness seems to be a national trend that Michigan started picking up on about eight years ago, said Doreen Simonds, director of Nutrition and Purchasing Services for the Waterford School District and member of the advisory committee for Making Michigan Recipes Work, a program to aid schools in this cause. “Parents were really the biggest motivating factor, so the trend really started at the home level,” Simonds said.


    Embedded in a larger initiative called the Michigan Farm Institution Network, the “Making Michigan Recipes Work” campaign was sponsored by Michigan State University Extension. It held training sessions for cafeteria food service workers in Marquette, Benzie, Okemos, East Kentwood and Warren.


    School nutrition directors discussed challenges and successes in integrating local produce into school menus. One concern is the cost of buying farm fresh products with ever-tight budgets, especially for smaller, rural districts, Ward-Thomas said.


    Although “the cost of farm to school is a little more than our budget can handle, bigger distributors, such as Gordon Food Service, are now carrying more Michigan produce substitutes,” she said. A recent fresh fruits and veggies grant for a satellite school serving Gwinn is also helping make local food feasible.


    Cost is not always a problem. Waterford School District’s first source for food is a local county farmer’s market.


    “We all thought it’d cost so much more money, but it actually saved us a bunch,” Simonds said.

    And the educational value of such programs is significant, advocates say.


    “It’s important to me that I partner with the teachers to help students learn the value of local produce in the classroom,” Ward-Thomas said.


    Simonds agrees with the importance of providing farm fresh options and on educating students on why they should eat this way.


    The Waterford School District started “Fruity Fridays,” when Simonds brought each classroom fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks, she said. “Kids are so used to processed food that they were amazed to see broccoli looks like brains and peaches are fuzzy,” Simonds said. “We’re having a blast with it.”


    Waterford schools are making local produce a hands-on learning experience. Students care for five school gardens and two greenhouses. In the summer, the garden produce is used for a kids’ feeding program. The leftovers are donated to the community. Fall harvests go completely to the school cafeteria.


    Both Waterford and Gwinn participated in the annual Michigan Apple Crunch, a statewide promotion to get everyone in K-12 schools to crunch into a Michigan apple at the same time on the same day.


    Warren set up a mini farmers market at lunch time in their cafeteria, where the school dog mascot “Diggin” passed out apples provided by Brookwood Fruit Farms in Almont, Simonds said.


    Next year Waterford plans to celebrate the Michigan Apple Crunch by breaking the Guinness World Record for longest line of fruit. It will take 11,000 apples.


    “A lot of people have great ideas and want to start incorporating local produce into school cafeterias, but they don’t know where to go,” Simonds said. “Cultivate Michigan is the connection that can really help make this happen for Michigan schools.”


    All schools were welcome to participate in this year’s Make Michigan Recipes Work program. Their participation totaled 87 attendees, Wojciak said.


    “Our goal is for all Michigan institutions, particularly schools and hospitals, to purchase 20 percent of their food locally by 2020,” said Wojciak.


    Challenges for purchasing local produce include the institutional staff’s lack of knowledge and tools to change their programs, Wojciak said. The training sought to bridge the disconnect.


    “Our main focus was improving food preparation,” Wojciak said, “including knife skills, washing, and identifying produce suitable for use.”


    Schools define what constitutes local produce.


    Local is often defined as grown within the state. But since most institutions rely on a main distributor, this program encourages schools to simply ask that distributor to substitute common state grown options, Wojciak said.


  • October 14, 2015 in the Tri-City Times




  • Sautee Pan Apple Tart Recipe

    By Fox 2 Detroit WJBK with Chef Jeremy Abbey of Edible Wow Magazine

    September 18, 2015


    It's coming to be apple picking season in Michigan, but we're not always sure what to do with all those apples we bring home...





    12 oz AP flour

    8 oz cold butter, cut into chunks

    4 oz very cold water

    2 Tbls granulated sugar



    2 apples (any firm apple), peeled and slived

    3 Tbls granulated sugar

    1 Tbls corn starch

    1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

    1 tsp good vanilla

    Pinch of Salt

    Butter as needed



    1 sweet apple, diced

    1 oz. raisins

    2 Tbls prepared granola

    1 Tbls granulated sugar

    Pinch of salt

    2 tsp Apple cider vinegar

    1 Tbls canola oil


    Cut the butter into the flour and sugar until large lumps of butter are held together when pressed. Drizzle in cold water and mix until a dough is formed. DO NOT OVERWORK THE DOUGH. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


    Mix the applex with remaining ingredients for the filling. Rub a 10-inch saute pan with a lot of butter. Arrange the apples in the pan. Roll out 1/3 of the dough into a large enough circle to cover the pan. heat the saute pan with apple filling over medium heat until you hear it sizzle. Cover with dough and place in a preheated 375 degree oven for 22-25 minutes or until lightly browned.


    Using a spatula, gentle loosen the dough from the sides of the pan. Place a plate over the plan (say a prayer) and invert, scraping the apples onto the top. It's all about the flavor!



  • Lamphere School District Adds Fresh Farm Produce To Menu

    Locally sourced apples among offerings for 2014-15

    By Andy Kozlowski of the C & G News

    September 24, 2014


    MADISON HEIGHTS — Each week, about 2,000 apples arrive in the Lamphere school district, delivered by Chuck Bristol, of Brookwood Fruit Farm in Almont.


    “We call and order bushels of apples that they bring to us every week, so the apples we get on Monday were picked over the weekend,” said Katie McConkie, director of food services for Lamphere Public Schools. “This means the kids are not only getting apples, but they’re getting fresh apples, and quite frankly, they’re less expensive ordering them from the orchard.”


    All kinds of apples are delivered to the district, and this is just the start of a new focus on locally sourced produce, with plans to arrange for vegetable shipments from other farms in Michigan, as well. 


    The connection with Brookwood Fruit Farm came about when McConkie spoke to the food services director for a district in Waterford. She and the other food service directors meet once a month at Oakland Schools to compare notes and share ideas.


    The Waterford director had met Bristol at the farmers market in Waterford, where they agreed to start shipping apples to Waterford schools. The Almont farm borders Romeo at 38 Mile and Van Dyke.


    For his part, Bristol said the arrangement works well.


    “I’ve done Waterford from last fall until April or so,” Bristol said. “My apple crop has been good, real good. We lost all of our peaches, and some hard cherries and pears, but the apples in all varieties have been doing very well. This week, we’re picking Macintosh and honey crisp; next week, we’ll have Cortland. The schools are one more market for us, and what they take is medium size; we retail our largest size apples, and the medium apples go to the schools.”


    McConkie said that purchasing from local farmers qualifies Lamphere Public Schools as “Farm to School,” a classification through the Michigan Department of Education that is encouraged since it strengthens the local economy.


    The new apple initiative is not the only way the Lamphere district is trying to be proactive with the food they provide.


    Over at Hiller Elementary, the kids receive free breakfast and free lunch every day, by way of their status as a CEO school (Community Eligibility Option), which provides federal funding for the meals.


    The first 15 minutes of instructional time are provided for eating breakfast in class; coolers are filled with whole-grain bagels, cream cheese, yogurt, fresh fruit and fat-free milk, and provided to each class.


    For lunch, there are four options each day: The student’s choice of a hot item on the menu, the monthly alternate, a fresh-made salad, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The drinks include several flavors of fat-free milk, and all bread products are 51 percent or higher whole grain. The apples are part of their lunch, if they choose.


    “Because the students are getting a full breakfast, they have better attendance and do better as far as listening to the teacher,” McConkie said. “They’re learning better, and their test scores are higher, and their behavior is improved. A hungry child cannot learn, so this really helps. At Lamphere, we say, ‘We think food, because the students can’t think without it.’ And it’s fun for them to eat in the classroom with their friends.”


    Having fun with their food extends to the cooking club at each elementary school. Students in kindergarten through fifth-grade pay $3 to attend the club, after school; anywhere from 40-100 kids usually attend each session. They then learn how to prepare healthy snacks at home, without using knives or the oven.


    One example is a string cheese scooter, forming the scooter from cheese, the wheels from cucumber or zucchini, and the spokes and handlebars from pretzel sticks, with black olives capping off each handlebar. McConkie leads each session, often with a guest chef.


    “We want to feed the kids nutritious meals, but at the same time, we’re teaching them about the value of nutrition, as well,” McConkie said, noting that part of their campaign includes two mascots: Andy the Penguin and Artie the Polar Bear, seen in pictures around the elementary schools, promoting a message of eating right.


    This message extends to the high school, where students can get experience working directly in the school garden, located in one of the interior courtyards. Now in its seventh or eighth year, the garden provides all kinds of vegetables, and some fruits, as well.


    “If we need some strawberries, we’ll go down to the garden and pick what we need and bring it back to the kitchen to prepare it. I’ll tell the students who work with us to go pick, say, green beans, and they can taste them right off the vine, or I’ll tell them to pick different herbs, like basil and chive and parsley, and they can take a leaf right off the plant and eat it,” McConkie said. “They might not get to see that at home, but here, they can cultivate the garden, and we even dry out the seeds for the following year’s crop.”


    The garden includes cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, zucchini, eggplant, onions, radishes, tomatoes, peppers, and more. It’s yet another way the Lamphere district is locally sourcing the food they serve their students.


    The belief is the focus on eating healthy will pay off.


    “It helps the teachers teach the students throughout the day because the students’ stomachs are full and they’re feeling well and they’re ready to learn,” McConkie said. “The teachers love it, and the students love it, too.”




  • Apples, Apples Everywhere


    After disastrous 2012, Michigan enjoys biggest crop in decades


    By Susan Sujdak in The Trowel... with contributions from Michael Martinez, The Detroit News, and John Hogan, The Grand Rapids Press            August 2013


    Look for abundant apples at orchards and cider mills across Michigan this fall, thanks to a bumper crop that will help the industry recover from last year's devastating harvest.


    Growers are expected to pack 30 million bushels of apples this season - the state's biggest crop in half a century, according to the Michigan Apple Committee. That's a far cry from the dismal 3 million harvested last year. The unprecedented March, 2012 warm-up forced apple blossoms to open well ahead of time. Then in April, more seasonable weather arrived - including several days with sub-freezing temperatures. The cold zapped apple blossoms when they were most vulnerable. About 90 percent of Michigan's apple crop was torpedoed. Orchards across the state were closed.


    Michigan typically is the third-largest producer of apples in the U.S., behind Washington and New York. Apples contribute between $700 million and $900 million annually to the state's economy, according to the apple committee. The state's annual harvest averages about 20 million bushels, so last year's numbers were shocking.


    There was a silver lining. All the energy that would have gone into forming apples instead was stored by the trees, providing a blast of energy for this year's crop.


    Cool spring weather this year, coupled with ample rain, was a boon for apples, asparagus, peaches, and pears. Most of Michigan saw below-normal temperatures in April. Temperatures statewide averaged between 3 and 4 degrees below normal, whereas rainfall set records.


    Then in May, temperatures warmed up nicely, allowing apple blossoms to open without the threat of killing freezes.


    Add to all that the more effective growing techniques, the result is more Michigan apples in orchards, cider mills and grocery stores across the state - and that means cheaper prices, too.


    Chuck Bristol, of Brookwood Fruit Farm in Almont, sells apples regularly at the Oakland County Farmers Market.


    "It's been a truely great year," he said "We are regularly searching market's for this year's crop."


    "We're really excited to be back in the marketplace," said Diane Smith, executive director of the Lansing-based Michigan Apple Committee. "I would definitely say, with supply being up, those mills won't have to struggle as much to fulfill their commitments to their customers. You'll see a little relief in the price."


    Michigan's entire fruit industry has bounced back this year. Cherries, blueberries, peaches, grapes, and berries are all doing well.


    "Overall, for fruit production, it's been a good year," said Ken Nye, commodities specialist with the Michigan Farm Bureau. "When we run the numbers this year, it's going to be in the top 10 percent of all time."


    This summer, more than 212 million pounds of cherries were harvested, said Phil Korson, president of the Lansing-based Cherry Marketing Institute. Last year, just 11 million pounds were harvested.


  • 15th annual self-guided tour returns October 13-14

    By Tom Wearing, Tri-City Times Staff Writer on October 3, 2012.

    ALMONT - A 15-year autumn tradition continues this weekend, Oct. 13-14, with the arrival of the 2012 "Almont Color Tour."

    Founded in 1997 by local businesswoman Teemie Eschenburg, the self-guided tour of area farms, antique shops and cottage businesses includes 11 stops this year.

    Color Tour coordinator Janis Grant said each stop is unique and representative of the diversity of products and talent to be discovered in the Almont area.

    "We're very excited about this year's tour," said Grant. "Each of these locations is worth a visit. Collectively, they are evidence of the wonderful people and products that are available right here in our own backyards."

    Grant noted a pair of new-comers to the tour: Rustic Relic Antiques at 4365 Bishop Rd in Dryden; and Fort Fisher Suri Alpacas at 5841 Secord Lake Rd, also in Dryden.

    "I'd not been out to see the alpacas before and it was great," Grant said. "They had a three-day old baby alpaca out there that was just precious."

    Fort Fisher Suri Alpacas also offer a farm store featuring homegrown alpaca fleece products for purchase.

    Teemie Eschenburg's Teeemie's Country Blooms is again on the tour and at anew location, 16209 Dryden Rd. in Allenton. She invites everyone to stop by and peruse through her homemade goods and hade-gathered florals, dried bouquets, needle art and much more. For more information, call 810-310-0711.

    Grant encourages 2012 Color Tourists to visit her business. ReLiteration Used Books, located at 610 S Main St, behind the old mill.

    The book store features more than 45,000 unique titles covering every imaginable genre. For details, contact Janis Grant at 810-706-0220 or visit the Web site at:

    Marjeanne's Creations also returns to the tour, but at a new location.

    Relocated to 503 S Main St, adjacent to the Country Corner, Marjeanne's is a quaint herbal country store that greets the senses as one enters the door.

    The store features home-made soaps, body lotions, syrup, jam, preserves, honey and stuffed animals; along with Marjeanne's top sellers; Migraine Away and Numbs Up! Visit

    Other tour locations include:

    *Greenhouse Pottery, 5681 Secord Lake Rd, in Dryden Township. The Ceramics studio and gallery offers functional and decorative pottery and is open year round.

    *Keller's Maple Syrup & Honey Product, 6209 Bordman Rd in Almont. The Keller family offer maple syrup, maple sugar, jelly, candles, honey and honey butter from the family's own hives. Call 810-798-8695 for more information.

    *Ziehm Greenhouse & Produce, 6330 Bordman Rd in Romeo. The farm specializes in seasonal vegetables, beef, pork, poultry and eggs. Visitors are welcomed to relax around the picnic table with a cup of coffee or cocoa. Call 810-531-0275.

    *Brookwood Fruit Farm & Bakery, 7845 Bordman Rd in Almont. The business is a fifth-generation family farm that grows apples, peaches, tart cherries, raspberries, and apple cider. The business is also introducing its brand-new bakery, featuring homemade pies, cakes, cookies, tamales, doughnuts and varieties of breads. For questions or to place an order, call 810-798-8312.

    *Hill Top Farm, located at 7320 37-Mile Rd, features Mike and ruth's deep-dish pies in numerous varieties; pumpkin strudel, caramels, cookies, breads and Ruth's specialty, "Damn Good Jam." Call 810-343-3759 for information.

    *Hy's Cider Mill, at 6350 37-Mile Rd, has been a fixture on the almont Color Tour since its inception. This second-generation orchard and cider mill features a wide variety of apple. for questions or information, call 810-798-3611.

    Grant suggets making a day, or even two, of the 2012 Almont Color Tour. "The colors of the trees are changing at the perfect time for this event," said Grant. "The Color Tour is a wonderful opportunity for families, couples or individuals to come out and experience the pleasureand beuty of rural living."

    Almont Color Tour maps are currently available at numerous stores and businesses in Almont and the surrounding area.



    Brookwood opening new bakery

     Chuck Bristol, staff host lamb roast, open house, October 6-7

    By Tom Wearing, Tri-City Times Staff Writer

    ALMONT - There is plenty of activity going on at Brookwood Fruit Farm & Bakery this week, where the staff is prepping for an October 6-7 Open House.

    Located at 7845 Bordman Rd, a half-mile east of Van Dyke, the business is celebrating the opening of its new bakery on Saturday and Sunday. The open house runs from 9AM-5PM both days.

    Sunday's (Oct 7) activities will feature door prizes and and a lamb roast with shish-ka-bob, sausage, and beef fajitas and tacos. 

    Business owner Chuck Bristol is collaboratingwith head baker Dora Shagena, formerly of Imlay City's Jalisco Bakery, on the bakery business.

    Shagena and her staff are currently making pies, cookies, tamales, and 24 varieties of breads.

    Despite this year's terrible apple crop, Bristol says Brookwood will have apple pies available, made from last season's stored apples.

    Also available will be new-picked raspberries, apple cider, honey and U-pick pumpkins.

    On future Mondays, Shagena's staff will be joined by premiere donut-maker Jack Rankin, former owner of Rankin's Bakery in Imlay City.

    In additional to donuts, Rankin will be making his locally famous "Jack's Apple Fritters."

    Shagena said the Bookwood Bakery is currently distributing its baked goods throughout the local area and was recently licensed to serve shops and plants for lunches.

    She added that the bakery is already accepting orders for tamales and baked goods for the upcoming holiday season.

    "This is something I love to do," said Shegana. "It makes me very happy. I like nuturing people, and there is no better way to nuture people than through good food."

    Brookwood Fruit Farm & Bakery is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9AM - 5PM.

    To place an order for baked goods or other items, call 810-798-8312.


  • How 'bout them apples?
    Dismal crop production tough swallow for area growers
     by Maria Brown in the Tri-City Times on August 29, 2012.
    ALMONT — By now, just about everyone knows that this has been a disastrous year for fruit growers. Tree fruits sprang to life in March when the thermometer surpassed 80 degrees but the would-be crop was destroyed when frosty weather returned.

    As a result, that sweet, crisp staple of fall, the apple, will be hard to find, says Brookwood Fruit Farm owner Chuck Bristol, no matter where you go.

    "There are very few apples in the state of Michigan this year and what few there are won't last long," he said.

    "If you want apples, get them when you see them. There will be nothing left after October.

    His 40 plus acres of trees are virtually fruit-less but he hopes to get a small supply of apples from his brother who has a small orchard in West Branch. Naturally, cider supplies will be very limited too, he says.

    "My daughter-in-law and I joke that we'll be able to eat the entire apple crop between the two of us," Chuck said.
    As for comparing the 2012 growing season to other tough years, Bristol said 1986 comes to mind and, according to his dad, Bill, 1945 ranks up there thanks to the early record heat the region experienced.

    Still, Brookwood will open to customers after Labor Day. Pick-your-own raspberries and pumpkins will be available and fresh baked goods, some made from last year's apple crop, will be sold. He anticipates that the raspberry crop should be good.

    Some might consider it optimism when Bristol declares that next year will be much improved but the experienced grower says it's a matter of plant biology that has him ready for a bumper crop in 2013.

    "Those trees have had a good rest. We'll have one heck of a crop next year," Chuck said.

    "Some varieties are naturally on a heavy-light-heavy-light cycle but everything should rebound after the kind of year we've been having.

    He anticipates he'll be open until Thanksgiving.
    Paul Blake says they anticipate they'll harvest about 25 percent of what would be a normal crop.

    He said they employed a variety of frost protection measures in April—three large wind machines, irrigation and about 50 fires—in their orchards.

    "It worked for nine out of ten nights in April but then it got down to 21 degrees one night. We thought we were in the clear until then," Blake said.

    "We're managing and we'll have plenty of apples for our customers."

    Paul said they'll be supplementing their own produce with apples from elsewhere in Michigan and Pennsylvania, adding that most of what they've bought will go into cider making.

    Once they knew it would be a lighter apple crop Paul said they opted to plant more pumpkins and vegetables and add more fun attractions at their cider mill and 'Big Apple' locations in Armada like a 3-D maze and zombie paintball safari hay ride.

    Blake's Farm in Almont sells apples, baked goods and offers pick your own raspberries.

    Ron Yoder is currently selling MacIntosh, Spies, Golden Delicious apples from his stand on M-53 in Almont. He said he also lost a good deal of his crop due to the weather.

    According to the Michigan Apple Committee, the extreme spring weather is responsible for cutting this year's crop by 90 percent. In an average year, between 20-23 million bushels are harvested.

  • Harvest dinner a hit at Festival of Gourds
    Imlay City chef Michael Romine goes local for meal
    By Maria Brown in the Tri-City Times newpaper on September 21, 2011
    IMLAY CITY – Vendor, guest presenters and even visitors from across the country decended on the Eastern Michigan Fairgrounds last month for the Festival of Gourds but when it came to the food that everyone consumed, the focus was local, very local.
    The fruits, vegetables and meat that comprised the meal crafted by professional chef and Imlay City native Michael Romine came from within a 50 mile radius.
    “We have so many great products and so many great growers in the area. Finding a variety of products was easier than I expected it to be,” Romine said of the meal he fixed for 70 plus guests on August 27.
    Romine said he let the food items he found guide his creation of the night’s buffet.
    “Sometimes chefs try to force things to fit into their menu instead of letting products be the star,” Romine said.
    “Ninety-nine percent of what we used came from within a 50 mile radius or less.”
    The meal included an organic greens salad with honey vinaigrette, apples, walnuts and red onions from featuring produce from Natures Pace Organics of Mayville, Good-Rich Honey from Goodrich and Past Tense Farm from Lapeer.
    A carrot slaw consisted of the familiar orange vegetables grown here in Imlay City by Timmer Farms.
    A roasted chicken and corn salsa was comprised of products from BF&E Organics of North Branch, YKA Harvesting Earth of Flint and Carothers Olive Oil from Burton.
    A beef and tomato demi again featured BF&E Organic farm.
    Romine presented an array of vegetables dishes with produce from the aforementioned growers – roasted summer vegetables with basil and garlic; beets and green beans with brown butter.
    The ‘star’ of the show, according to the chef himself, was the Red Haven peach cobbler made with fruit grown at Bristol’s Brookwood Fruit Farm in Almont.
    “We more or less took the peaches and cooked them with local honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and pepper,” Romine said.
    “There was not one scrap of cobbler left at the end of the dinner.”
    Romine said he’s confident the dinner showed just how passionate he is about good local food.
    “That’s what Imlay City needs in a restaurant,” he said.
    He hasn’t given up on his goal of opening an establishment in the area that does just that. Soon, Romine will be returning to Imlay City to work with his parents at the family-owned Countryside Banquet Center and hopefully, find the time to focus on his entrepreneurial plans.
    The local harvest dinner was one of several highlights of the second annual Michigan Festival of Gourds, according to organizers Deb and Ron Stallings.
    Deb said they were pleased with the number of families and children who visited the show and participated in a number of activities including the make and take craft station.
    “In the end we raised $6,200 for the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation,” Deb said.
    The 2012 Michigan Festival of Gourds is plated for September 14-16.
  • Farming: Michigan's 2nd largest Industry, vital to the economy
    by Jessica Harthorn with NBC Channel 5

    Posted March 16, 2011
    LAPEER -- Agriculture is Michigan’s second largest industry and a vital part of local communities.
    NBC25 went to the Farmology event in Lapeer to learn how important it is to support local farmers.
    What do these funny looking guys, winter squash, and this delicious apple all have in common?
    They’re all grown by Michigan farmers.
    The second annual Farmology event took place in Lapeer Wednesday, touting the benefits of farms in local communities.
    Will Bristol is a seventh generation apple farmer and says eating an apple a day truly does keep the doctor away.
    “I'm a pretty healthy guy,” said Will Bristol, the Assistant Farm Manager of Brookwood Fruit Farm.
    Brookwood Fruit Farm produces 40 apple varieties, where at a commercial farm you'll only see ten.
    “So we are trying to pull you out of those grocery stores for your apple purchase by luring you in with something you haven't tried before,” said Bristol.
    And these apples are used to feed Michigan’s horses and cows.
    “I love cows!” said 4-year-old Raymond.
     I love cows too, and found out dairy farming is the top ranking segment of Michigan’s agricultural industry.
    A typical cow weighs 1,600 pounds, drinks a bathtub full of water and produces about ten gallons of milk a day.
    “Keep drinking that milk, it keeps us busy,” said Dairy Farmer, Bill Ankley.
    And these teens with the Future Farmers of America say it takes 12 gallons of milk to make just one pound of ice cream.
    “It’s important to support your local farmers because they're the ones that are actually the small businesses, like the crops they're bringing to the larger production farmers, that is where our food is getting made,” said Erika Garant, a member of the FFA in Lapeer County.
    And then there are Michigan’s Alpaca farmers.
    Alpaca hair is used to make all kinds of clothes because it’s extremely soft, four times warmer than wool, and hypoallergenic, plus...
    “They adore children, they won't hurt you, they don't kick, they don't bite,” said Debbie Verbeke of Funny Face Alpaca Farm.
    In all, Michigan farmers produce more than 200 different foods and fiber products.
    Michigan contributes more than $73 billion annually to the state's economy.
    The Farmology event was sponsored by the Lapeer County Farm Bureau, 4H, and the Lapeer Center Building.
  • 'Savor the Simple' Winners Announced
    Talented cooks receiveproduce gift certificates, subscription prizes

    by Maria Brown ikn the Tri-City Times Newspaper on September 15, 2010
    TRI-CITY AREA — Lots of area cooks were generous enough to share their favorite recipes that feature fresh fruits, vegetables and other Michigan-grown ingredients but only three were lucky enough to walk away with a prize from the 'Savor the Simple' recipe contest.
    As the result of a random drawing, Barb Mobley of Attica won a $25 gift certificate to Blake's Farm in Almont; Irene Lukasak of St. Clair will receive a $25 gift certificate to Brookwood Fruit Farm in Almont and Audrey Markwart of Yale earned herself a $20 gift certificate from Penzien's Farm in Imlay City.
    Barb Mobley submitted two recipes, both featuring pears. She says she "has a ton" of the fruit and is always looking for ways to use them up. Barb's pear salad recipe was printed in the Sept. 8 issue. Mobley said she likes to substitute pears for apples in many recipes including pear pie (see her recipe in this week's paper).
    Irene Lukasak's broccoli salad recipe was printed in the Sept. 1 edition. She said she likes to cook and is proud to say she's related to the well-known vegetable growers, the VanHoutte's.
    Audrey Markwart's entry, Aunt Flossie's Apple Torte, appears in this week's paper. She said her late Aunt Flossie made this torte often for her bridge club. Audrey notes that it's now a favorite fall dessert for her family and besides locally-grown apples includes Michigan-produced milk and sugar too.
    The rest of the contestants who entered the inaugural contest will receive a six-month subscription to the Tri-City Times.
    Thanks to Blake's, Brookwood and Penzien's farms and everyone who entered the 'Savor the Simple' contest.
  • The Pies That Bind

    St Clair Shores senior center’s apple pie week helps sustain meal program
    By Julie Snyder in the C&G News on September 15, 2010
    C & G Staff Writer
    ST. CLAIR SHORES — St. Clair Shores resident Mary Cipriano doesn’t just enjoy Apple Pie Week at the city’s senior activities center because of the good it does. She says it’s also a great way to get acquainted with others who have aspirations similar to hers.
    “I’m just terribly impressed with the work ethics here and watching the mass production of pies,” said Cipriano, a member of the Senior Center of the Shores (SCOTS) board. “And it’s nice getting to know some (senior center) members I usually don’t get to work with otherwise.”
    Apple Pie Week is being held at the St. Clair Shores Senior Activities Center for Active Adults through Sept. 17.
    Senior Center Director Sue Fickau said between 50 and 60 volunteers, including members of the center, members of St. Clair Shores City Council and local firefighters, are volunteering each day with rolling dough and peeling, coring and chopping apples. The pies are being sold at the center at 20000 Stephens until the Lac Ste. Clair Fine Art Fair at Veterans Memorial Park Sept. 18-19.
    She said success of the annual fundraiser is vital to the center and to local senior citizens.
    “This helps feed the seniors,” said Fickau. “Our meal program is so important.”
    The center’s meal program is aided through the Area Agency on Aging 1-B and the Macomb County Nutrition Program, Fickau said.
    Meals are available to both members and non-members of the center and more than 6,000 meals are provided each year. A minimum donation of $3 is suggested of seniors 60 and older and $3.50 is suggested of those under 60, although an anonymous donation in any amount is accepted, Fickau said.
    The apple pie project, as it has become known, was founded more than 16 years ago by late Senior Activities Director Carole Kline because the center wasn’t getting as much money back as it was spending on the meals for those seniors on a fixed income.
    Today, the apple pie project garners anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 for the meal program.
    The senior center purchases apples from Michigan fruit farmers, including Brookwood Fruit Farm in Almont, as well as all their own ingredients for the pies.
    St. Clair Shores resident Alex Bolen, one of the founders of the apple pie project, volunteered chopping apples in the center’s cafeteria, where volunteers are working at various stations in their effort to produce 1,000 apple pies.
    “I’m doing this because I eat here every day,” said Bolen. “It’s important that we keep the program going.”
    St. Clair Shores Firefighters Dan Sebastian and Tom Bench volunteered their help rolling dough and carrying large quantities of pies to and from the kitchen’s ovens.
    Sebastian said firefighters volunteered in shifts throughout the week.                 
    “We like to help out; help the community,” he said. “We come out every year.”            
    Regular apple pies are $10 and sugar-free pies are $12. Pie pockets are being sold only at the senior center for $3 through Sept. 17, and blooming apples — sliced green apples covered in caramel and nuts — are being sold only at the art fair for $3 each.

    You can reach staff writer Julie Synder at or (586) 498-1039.