While we are continuing to build Thriving Petoskey programming, the concepts behind this movement are not new in our community. Take a look at some Thriving Petoskey initiatives in action, and let them serve as an inspiration for your own business.
Public Transit Work Group
In September 2020, Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation and Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce convened a 14-member Work Group to research sustainable, long-term public transit solutions for Emmet County. This action was taken because the two entities believe public transit is necessary for the long-term prosperity and resiliency of Emmet County, as it is inextricably linked to many challenges facing our residents, including economic development, cost of living, and quality of life.
The Work Group included diverse representation across the private, nonprofit, and civic sectors, including Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBB), North Central Michigan College, McLaren Northern Michigan, Char-Em United Way, Wineguys Restaurant Group, and other human services organizations and local businesses. The group met every two weeks from November 2020 through March 2021 and consulted transit experts, government officials, and local stakeholders. At the end of this process, they produced a detailed proposal for an Emmet Transit Authority (ETA) to provide comprehensive, countywide public transit. The proposal was presented to the Emmet County Board of Commissioners at a strategic planning session on June 24, 2021. Meeting materials, including the full proposal, slide deck, and audio recording, can be accessed through the links below.
Local Food Relief Fund
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Michigan in March of 2020, Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities quickly realized that the faltering national supply chains would both increase demand at food pantries and devastate small-scale producers that depended on direct-to-consumer markets and restaurant sales. In response, Groundwork launched the Local Food Relief Fund, a pandemic response that brought financial resources to the intersection of local farmers and families in need. Through an online fundraiser, they raised $30,000 in less than 24 hours and ultimately raised over $190,000. One hundred percent of these funds went to the Northwest Food Coalition, Manna Food Project, and Goodwill Northern Michigan Food Rescue. Together, they provided over 95,000 total pounds of locally grown food to more than 100 partner food pantries, meal sites, other human service agencies. Thirty-four farms throughout Northwest Michigan participated and received funds through this program as well, including Bear Creek Organic Farm, Coveyou Scenic Farm Market, Open Sky Organic Farm, and Peaceful Valley Farm in Emmet county.
COVID-19 USDA Farmers to Families Food Boxes
In response to both the economic and health emergencies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) partnered with national, regional, and local businesses to implement the “Farmers to Families Food Box Program.” The goal: purchase billions of dollars in produce, dairy, and meat products, package them into family-sized boxes, then transport them to food banks and other non-profits serving Americans in need. Though the majority approved for the program were large-scale food processing companies, there was one supplier, a family farm in our corner of the world, also selected: Coveyou Scenic Farm Market of Petoskey.
From June to September, the Coveyou Farm team worked to produce nearly 18,000 boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables for food-insecure families in Charlevoix, Antrim, and Emmet counties. Working with Manna Food Project, Friendship Centers of Emmet County, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and more, the Coveyous provided about 250,000 pounds of food supplied by their farm, a dozen or so other area farmers, and additional suppliers. Their amazing effort won national recognition as well as “Best COVID-19 Pivot Award” from the Michigan State University Product Center.
The Coveyous not only rose to the USDA’s challenge, but overcame additional ones by lifting others up. Even while pushing through their own struggles as a business during a pandemic and economic downturn, they created a new outlet for other small businesses to sell. “When other local producers weren’t sure where they would be able to sell, we welcomed them to our Barn Market,” Coveyou said. “We now offer a wide assortment of Northern Michigan-produced items from over 30 providers.”