Learning from Change

Change is a powerful agent in our lives. Currently we find ourselves caught in change of season. The mornings are more brisk, the leaves are slowly beginning to shift their colors, and pumpkins are covering every roadside farm stand. Soon we will find ourselves bustling about preparing for the holidays, wrapping gifts, and spreading the table full of food. In the bustle of change, we must not forget to pause and celebrate it.

In October, Local First is hosting their annual Fork Fest event in Grand Rapids. It has quickly become a staple event, a time for the community to gather together and enjoy local food and drink. This year Local First is delighted to have nearly fifty vendors taking part in the celebration, one of which is Heffron Farms, a new Local First member who knows the power of change well.

Nearly 20 years ago, Heffron Farms, based in Belding, found that change was taking a toll on the those in the business of livestock and crops. Farms all around the Heffron family’s land begin to close their doors as they could no longer hold on. The Heffrons were determined to ride the change. For them help came in the form of a seminar: Adopt 101. It was a learning session for livestock and crops farmers on how to adopt and change through the ugly times. The seminar highlighted marketing down the line to the consumer as the key to making it through the tough times. The Heffrons came back to the farm and decided to open their first retail space at the Fulton Street Farmers Market, which essentially was a fridge on a trailer. By the end of the market season the Heffrons found they had built up a clientele. Not wanting to leave their new customers without meat for the winter they decided to open a retail space on the farm. Six years later they had three more retail stores; they had passed through the tough times of change, and found themselves stronger then before.

For Dennis Heffron and his family change has promoted growth. No longer are they just farmers, but also retailers. What they have found, and what Dennis feels has led them to their success is quite simply, listening. They listen to, and are guided by, their customers.

Be sure to stop by the Heffron Farms booth at Fork Fest this year. They will be on site carving meat for you to sample, as well as sharing about their work, their practices, and answering any questions guests may have.

Heffron Farms
n7724 Ashley Avenue
nBelding, MI 48809
nPhone: (616) 794-2527

Brewery Vivant presents Fork Fest!

Brewery Vivant will be the presenting sponsor at Grand Rapids Fork Fest this year and we are excited for them to participate in this festival of local food and beverage entrepreneurs.

Brewery Vivant is a great advocate for this event because they truly embody what Fork Fest is all about. They believe a great business exists because of the support of its local community and, therefore, has the opportunity to be an active extension of that community.

Fork Fest is a great platform for Vivant to showcase their message: When food and beer are paired together, it can elevate both to a new level of enjoyment. For example, a great pairing at their pub can be found in one of their staple brews, Farm Hand, a French-style farmhouse ale, with the kitchen’s divine duck nachos. The bright acidity of Farm Hand perfectly complements the richness of the duck.  

One beer they’re particularly excited to bring this year is Pumpkin Tart: a farmhouse pumpkin ale brewed with real pumpkin and spices. Its ability to pair with autumn desserts and entrees will astound Fork Fest attendees.

So near the end of October come live the Bon Vivant and stop by Grand Rapids Fork Fest! 

Eventbrite - Local First Fork Fest

Lemonjello’s brings your favorite flavors to the Lakeshore Fork Fest

Local First favorite Lemonjello’s will be at the Lakeshore Fork Fest, taking place at Coppercraft Distillery on September 27 from 6-8:30PM! The Lemonjello’s team will be bringing refreshments and baked goods for your enjoyment.

Lemonjello’s relationship with Local First started when Lemonjello’s first opened in Holland. Owner Matt Scott says, “joining Local First expanded our business to be more than just a downtown Holland thing and it reminds us that the Greater West Michigan local community is important, not just our neighborhood.” Lemonjello’s is returning to the Lakeshore Fork Fest and looks forward to “the chance to try items from chefs that they don’t typically offer on the menu… it’s really great to see what they can do with food.”

You’ll typically find Lemonjello’s involved in various Local First events as well as working with the Downtown Development Authority in Holland and the Chamber of Commerce producing breakfast events for the community. They also partner with Hope College who hosts a Relay For Life fundraising every year. Scott says, “the whole mentality at Lemonjello’s is if my clientele and employees are really into [various] fundraisers, missions and events then it makes sense for us to be there. It’s important to know where our customers are going and what they are a part of and to be involved in what they’re doing.” 

Lemonjello’s is located on a busy corner in downtown Holland and by the nature of that has become a hub for community members. “We strive to serve great coffee and make great goods, and have our ingredients and quality be awesome,” Scott says, “a lot of people are coming more for an experience that they can’t get anywhere else.” In addition to being at the Lakeshore Fork Fest, Lemonjello’s can be found every Saturday at the Holland Farmers Market.

Grab your friends and a healthy appetite and stop by Lemonjello's table at the Lakeshore Fork Fest on September 27, from 6-8:30PM!

Craft is Choice

It’s no secret that Grand Rapids is a hub for craft beer activity. “Beer City” has over a dozen breweries providing countless options of well-made ales, lagers, pilsners, and stouts. On top of the beer explosion, the rise of rustic-style restaurants and distilleries that pay homage to a cultural history has grown with the help of a community who is taking the time to consider what they’re eating and drinking.

This set of ideals fits in perfectly with the culture at New Holland Brewing Company. It’s one of the major reasons the Holland-based beer and spirits brand opened The Knickerbocker Brewpub and Distillery on the west side of Grand Rapids. Opening its doors last week with a seating capacity over 400, The Knickerbocker will serve as a space to showcase what New Holland considers the craft lifestyle: sourcing local wherever possible and exploring new and reimagined recipes.

Located in an area steeped in Grand Rapids heritage, The Knickerbocker will highlight the cultures imbedded in the Westside. The menu includes known dishes such as Galumpkis and Smoked Kielbasa and Kraut alongside modern additions including a Black Bean Farro Burger and Smoked Tempe Burger. And while many people recognize New Holland as a big player in the Michigan craft beer scene, the new location will also highlight their growing spirits catalogue. New Holland’s award-winning whiskies, rums, and gins are featured in the upstairs lounge manned by well-educated bartenders. The lounge will feature a large library of specialty spirits designed to bring out the best in the base spirit to make room for even more creativity in their cocktails.

At New Holland, craft is more than just a buzzword; it’s a choice that enables both the restaurant and its patrons to think about their meal. If it’s a beer, a cocktail, or a dish, The Knickerbocker makes it with purpose. So celebrate and raise a glass to a great addition to the Grand Rapids community!

The Knickerbocker is located at 417 Bridge St. NW. For more information, visit newhollandbrew.com/theknickerbocker.

Walking the Local Walk

As the movement to support local has continued to explode in popularity over the past few years, one West Michigan business has been walking the local walk for decades. 

Since the 1950s, Standale Interiors on Lake Michigan Drive has been providing the Grand Rapids metro area with flooring, cabinetry, countertops, furniture, decor items and much more for any home renovation project. Standale was one of the first businesses to join Local First and is also one of the longest term, original members of the Grand Rapids Home Builders Association. 

“We believe that there is strength in numbers, and a tremendous value in collaborating and teaming up with other local businesses and organizations,” said Jan Lehman, Vice President of Marketing for Standale Interiors. 

The locally-owned design boutique recently unveiled a completely renovated and fully-functioning kitchen in their showroom, which boasts porcelain tile flooring that looks like wood, quartz countertops and two different types of backsplash tiles. “The Rustic Cherry Dura Supereme cabinets we chose have a wired mercury and peppercorn finish and features an acrylic finish that can be a pattern, smooth or textured — it gives our designers lots of options to make a 'WOW' statement, ” she said. The state-of-the-art appliances were provided by Bekins, another West Michigan company. 

Standale has a wide variety of specialists and designers working on the showroom floor to help you pick out the right combination of furniture, accessories, blinds and bedding, and to make sure your home remodeling project comes out exactly the way you want it, from beginning to end. A broad assortment of products and samples are available in stock, and Standale also prides itself on custom ordering products at competitive prices. Along with our other companies Standale Lumber and Standale Home Center, you can find building materials, doors, windows, roofing, siding, decking and even pole barns to finish your project.

The company also works extensively with contractors. “Part of the different experience at Standale is that people working have knowledge and expertise, on top of the latest product information”, says Ben Bosworth from Bosworth Builders. “You're going to get a better quality product.” Even business owners not looking at remodeling can take advantage of Standale's interior. Their large conference room space is available for meetings, and the room is beautifully finished with rich wood paneling and ceiling beams. 

Have a chance to see Standale Interiors' new working kitchen and showroom firsthand September 15, 2016 when they host the Local First Member Mixer from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 pm. RSVP for that event here.

Photos taken by Brian Kelly Photgraphy & Film – See more photos here

Chef Cook-Off at Lakeshore Fork Fest: Coppercraft Distillery vs. Butch’s Dry Dock

Join the Lakeshore community for an evening of flavors, brews, baked goods and more at Coppercraft Distillery! The chef from Coppercraft Distillery will go head-to-head with Butch’s Dry Dock in a live cook-off. Each restaurant will compete to create the most mouth-watering dish using items provided by a Visser Farms.

Presenting sponsor, Coppercraft Distillery, is working with the Township to finalize plans to build a kitchen making the Lakeshore Fork Fest a good opportunity to showcase their Chef and some of the food they’d like to offer in the near future. According to General Manager Paul Marantette, “Local First does great work and it is always fun joining their team to plan a successful event!” Look for Coppercraft at other community events throughout the year. So far in 2016 Coppercraft Distillery has participated in four large-scale events including being the official sponsor of Tulip Time for the third consecutive year.

Coppercraft Distillery started in Holland in 2012 by Kim and Walter Catton when they decided to take their passion for whiskey and bourbon to a new level by opening a distillery. Marantette says Coppercraft “focuses on a premium product using quality ingredients from the very start with our grain that comes from a farm just five miles from our location, to the locally sourced produce and citrus we incorporate into our cocktail program.” Coppercraft chooses to support local businesses such as Central Park Market and the Farmers Market to secure these needs, and let the freshest ingredients speak for themselves as featured on the weekly cocktail specials menu.

Coppercraft will host this year's Lakeshore Fork Fest, which will feature samples from an array of local food vendors while you enjoy the live cook-off. The cook-off will feature a Chef from Butch’s Dry Dock and Chef Kelsey Winter-Troutwine of Coppercraft Distillery. The GR-native has spent the last six years working in some of the finest restaurants in downtown Chicago – most recently as a Sous Chef at mk The Resturant, a staple in the Chicago dining scene.

Feast on an array of flavors with Local First at the Lakeshore Fork Fest on Tuesday, September 27 from 6-8:30 PM at Coppercraft Distillery!