Grand Traverse County Hosts Farms Foods and Health Conference

The second annual Farms, Foods and Health Conference happened at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa Friday.

Farmers, health professionals and educators focused on ways to help people in Northern Michigan get access to healthier foods.

“When you have these kind of partnerships you can really make things happen.” says Diane Conners, Senior Policy Specialist for Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities.

The Farms, Food and Health Conference isn’t just a conference for local farmers.

Family and Sports Medicine Physician Dr. Jennifer Lyon says, “If we think about how our children our being fed in their schools, how we make our food choices every day, we make them out of convenience and so this conference is really about nurturing our food.”

At the conference professionals from each industry collaborated on one goal.

Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jason Jeffrey says, “We are developing a curriculum and instructional materials that connect farm to school with the standards that students are required to be exposed to in their educational experience.”

And as for the medical field, Dr. Lyon says, “How do I educate my patients, how do I make that food available to them, how do I make it available to them in the school setting so they’re not just eating pizza rolls. The ultimate goal is to get rid of diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure the things I see every day.”

The conference even focuses on bringing locally grown foods into the workplace. Every industry plays not only a role in the health and wellness of people in Northern Michigan, but keeping those healthy choices local.

Andrea Romeyn, a farmer that grows 200 varieties of organic produce says she’s excited other industries are deciding to be part of this local health movement. “The fact is if you can’t make a living farming, you’re not going to be able to stay in the business very long and then that means less food for Northern Michigan that comes from regional farms.”

 An effort farmers hope will continue.

Romeyn says, “Let’s keep collaborating with each other, learning from each other, spreading the good word 24:04 put a little pressure on our area institutions and our area employers to increase the amount of food they buy regionally.”