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This one’s for the students

Generally when I write columns I try to keep the content for readers of all ages, or I lean into the adult ages around election time. This column, however, is for the local students as they move back into the school year with...

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Eaton Rapids

Eaton Rapids

Featured Story

The Greenhouse Project brings tradition and creativity to the ERMC Farmers Market

Brandie Medlock’s family has been creating and selling homemade jams and jellies for over 30 years.

“They’ve been making those since before I was born,” Brandie laughs as she points to a rustic stand stacked with mason jars of preserves. “Jam really was the beginning of it all.”

Brandie is the president of The Greenhouse Project, a nonprofit that focuses on increasing local access to fresh produce.  She sets up shop weekly in a booth at the Eaton Rapids Medical Center (ERMC) Farmers Market. Every week Brandie, her daughter, her parents (and their dogs) arrive at the market with multitudes of delicious preserves, jams, baked goods, and produce in tow.

Even though the Medlock family started out in the business of preserves, these days you can always find a variety of fresh veggies and fruit at The Greenhouse Project’s stand. Brandie told me they grow their produce at a local garden just down the road from Eaton Rapids, in Springport.

“My favorite thing to grow is the Heirloom tomatoes,” Medlock says. “We’ve tried a bunch of varieties, from the older seeds to the newer types, and we always grow them 100 percent organic and GMO free.”

In fact, the current produce offerings from The Greenhouse Project are just the tip of the iceberg. Brandie tells me that their real growing season is just about to begin, and customers can expect to see an abundant variety in the coming months. They expect to have peppers, leeks, onions, melons, and even pumpkins as the season progresses.

“We had a late start to the growing season this year,” she said, “so most of what we grow we haven’t even begun to harvest yet!”

In addition to the wonderful variety of produce The Greenhouse Project sells each week, the homemade jams and jellies on this stand are a prize all their own. Somehow, despite their low-sugar content, these spreads are packed with flavor.

When I ask how they manage to get all that flavor in without the sugar skyrocketing, Brandie said simply, “When you use better fruit, you need less sugar.”

The Greenhouse Project’s booth at the ERMC Market truly is a family project. Brandie’s parents Marie and Terry, her daughter Stephanie, and their beloved pups Hazel and Rosie all attend the market each week with something to contribute. Marie makes a different variety of cookies each week, bringing everything from her famous molasses cookies to oatmeal and brown sugar, and always with an emphasis on local ingredients.

Brandie’s daughter Stephanie contributes by selling her photography in ways both unique and classic. She always brings a few prints of some of her best shots of beautiful spots around the state of Michigan, but she also offers “Portraits with Your Pet” for just $10, a service that patrons love. It’s also important to point out that the family’s dogs are contributing too, because if you don’t have a pet of your own to pose with, you’re always welcome to have a photo taken with their adorable puppy Hazel instead.

The Greenhouse Project has been coming to the Eaton Rapids Medical Center Farmers Market for years, and Brandie says she always gets a lot out of selling local food to local customers.

“I love the engagement with the customers here,” she said. “And I enjoy being able to provide fresh food to them, especially seniors and lower-income customers, for affordable prices.”

It’s clear this family finds joy in providing delicious, healthy food for their community, and it’s wonderful to see that community supporting them in return each week at the market. Stop by The Greenhouse Project any Wednesday now through mid-October, in the Eaton Rapids Medical Center parking lot from 3 to 6 p.m. Whether you’re looking for affordable, fresh produce or authentic homemade treats, you won’t be disappointed with what you find.

Article submitted by ERMC.

Mason

Mason

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Mason

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Mason DDA hosts Chocolate Walk through downtown

Thursday, May 11, from 2 to 5 p.m. residents and visitors are invited to Mason for a Chocolate Walk through downtown. The Mason Downtown Development Authority is putting on the event to bring attention to the unique businesses and opportunities that exist all within a short walking distance in the downtown area.

Walkers will start at Mason City Hall, receive a map and a chocolate-collecting bag, and start the trek through downtown. With 37 stops along the way, walkers will consume and take home a variety of chocolate treats, as well as special gifts and offers from the participating businesses.

“(This may) give them a reason to come back to Mason,” said Jamie Robinson, chair of the Mason DDA.

As owner of a couple Mason favorites, Bestsellers Books and Coffee Co. and the Vault Delicatessen, Robinson knows the great potential the downtown has for attracting newcomers. A chocolate walk through some of Mason’s finest businesses combined with a special gift or discount for products is a sure to bring visiting walkers back to the historic town, according to Robinson.

The idea of the chocolate walk came from one such event held in Old Town Lansing. Robinson and others saw the kind of crowds and enthusiasm the Old Town chocolate walk brought to one historic district, and brought the idea back to Mason.

“Chocolate is appealing to a vast majority of people,” said Robinson.

Walkers will be fortunate to have a variety of finely made chocolates from Hanover’s Michigan Mints, Fabiano’s Candies, and more. Although chocolate will be the primary treat for the event, walkers can look forward to a number of other delicious delights as well.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to view new spaces in the Mason downtown. One stop along the chocolate trail will be the new Dart Bank building, in which walkers will get a tour of the lobby area. Another highly anticipated stop will be the Michigan Barn Salvage, where walkers will get a sneak peak at the new business.

Tickets to the Mason Chocolate Walk are $25 with advance order and $30 on the day of the event. Readers can buy tickets online at the Mason DDA website, or buy tickets at Bestsellers Books and Coffee Co, or purchase tickets at Mason City Hall the day of the event.

For more event information readers can visit masondda.com.

DIMONDALE

Dimondale

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Beloved Dimondale restaurant to reopen

With a sigh of relief and a round of applause, residents of Dimondale, and the surrounding areas, celebrated at Mike’s Village Restaurant Wednesday, June 27 as Lori Conarton announced she’d be reopening the Dimondale favorite....

Dimondale

Featured Story

Beloved Dimondale restaurant to reopen

With a sigh of relief and a round of applause, residents of Dimondale, and the surrounding areas, celebrated at Mike’s Village Restaurant Wednesday, June 27 as Lori Conarton announced she’d be reopening the Dimondale favorite. For 50 years Mike’s was a staple of the village of Dimondale, serving baked goods and homestyle fare. Dimondalians knew owner Mike Chappell and his staff and took comfort in the food, friendliness, and simplicity. Many, far and wide, were saddened when Mike announced he’d be closing the restaurant, and Conarton was one of the many.

Saddened by the news as she was, Conarton decided to let the announcement be the catalyst for fulfilling one of her lifelong dreams — to own her own local diner, especially one she was familiar with. Conarton and her mother were regulars at Mike’s, and she couldn’t stand the thought of losing another gem of Dimondale’s main street, especially one that had lasted in the village through many storms and changing times.

“The day he (Mike) made the announcement, I started thinking about it,” said Conarton.

It wasn’t long before she and Chappell had made arrangements. Pieces are currently in motion to have the same, familiar restaurant reopened in August. Many familiar faces and dishes will return to Mike’s, but a few things will be different. Mike’s will have a facelift, with new paint and flooring. The hours will also change, with restaurant no longer offering dinner. Still, the menu will have many of its essential favorites, as well as the small town charm any diner needs.

The reopening of Mike’s, however, is less about the food and walls, to Conarton, and more about the people. Conarton not only was a regular customer at the village restaurant, she also worked at Mike’s during her high school and college years. To her, and to so many patrons, Mike’s was a place for community togetherness, early employment, and fond memories.

“In every community there’s a restaurant people go to regularly. There’s a sense of community and friendliness,” said Conarton. “It’s a friendly atmosphere, everybody knows your name, you feel at home there… That’s so important to us.”

The concept of the community restaurant isn’t just important to Conarton and Chappell, it’s important to many Dimondale residents. Conarton has received dozens of encouraging and grateful emails, messages, and phone calls regarding her announcement. Mike’s absence may have been short, but it left an impact on the community. Residents are eager to have their beloved restaurant reopened, and hopefully ready for another 50 years of service.

Eaton County

Eaton County

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Windwalker to host illusionist Caleb Johnson’s new show, The Ruse

His illusions serve as the vehicle in which Caleb Johnson connects his story to his audience. No story he’s ever written has more personal meaning or powerful impact than the one he will debut at Windwalker Underground Gallery in Charlotte on Oct. 5 and 6 — The Ruse.

An illusionist for the past 10 years, Johnson’s career and life reached a turning point last year when he shared with his church community that he is gay. The revelation cost him his job at the church, where he had been a pastor for 10 years.

The following year was one of soul-searching and self-discovery.

“That definitely took a toll on my personal life, my motivation, and my business,” Johnson said. “I realized during that time that my audience was maybe limited to the religious community. I realized I had fallen for a trick myself, allowing my worth to be tied up in the faith community. It was the toughest thing I’ve dealt with in my life. It showed me that I was limiting myself to such a small segment of the world.”

The Ruse represents Johnson’s transformation and his drive to live his dream of being a storyteller and illusionist. His passion for storytelling started with his father, who often captivated people with his stories. Johnson said he learned so much about his father’s character through those stories. He realized he could reach others in the same way.

The Ruse, Johnson said, is about his Journey.

“I fell for a trick, and wore a mask trying to be who others wanted me to be,” he said. “In the end, I stumbled upon a really beautiful truth, that free to be who I am made to be.”

Johnson said the story will connect with people who struggle with living a life they don’t want to live, all because of other people’s expectations.

“It caused me to realize one I’m not alone, connect with other people in a real meaningful way,”

Johnson said he is excited to bring his story to live on a stage that has a unique story of its own at Windwalker, located at 125 S. Cochran in Charlotte.

“Caleb, his story, and his amazingly talented way of sharing that story through expert illusions mesh perfectly with the energy that flows through the Windwalker building,” said Kalli Dempsey, Windwalker board member. This will be the largest production we have brought to the Windwalker stage, and we are honored that Caleb will be debuting this show in downtown Charlotte. This is a must see event that you will not want to miss.”

Tickets are just $15 and can be purchased at Windwalker or online at winderwalkerunderground.com/events/theruse.

Onondaga

Onondaga

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Onondaga

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Charlotte

Charlotte

Featured Story

Windwalker to host illusionist Caleb Johnson’s new show, The Ruse

His illusions serve as the vehicle in which Caleb Johnson connects his story to his audience. No story he’s ever written has more personal meaning or powerful impact than the one he will debut at Windwalker Underground Gallery in Charlotte on Oct. 5 and 6 — The Ruse.

An illusionist for the past 10 years, Johnson’s career and life reached a turning point last year when he shared with his church community that he is gay. The revelation cost him his job at the church, where he had been a pastor for 10 years.

The following year was one of soul-searching and self-discovery.

“That definitely took a toll on my personal life, my motivation, and my business,” Johnson said. “I realized during that time that my audience was maybe limited to the religious community. I realized I had fallen for a trick myself, allowing my worth to be tied up in the faith community. It was the toughest thing I’ve dealt with in my life. It showed me that I was limiting myself to such a small segment of the world.”

The Ruse represents Johnson’s transformation and his drive to live his dream of being a storyteller and illusionist. His passion for storytelling started with his father, who often captivated people with his stories. Johnson said he learned so much about his father’s character through those stories. He realized he could reach others in the same way.

The Ruse, Johnson said, is about his Journey.

“I fell for a trick, and wore a mask trying to be who others wanted me to be,” he said. “In the end, I stumbled upon a really beautiful truth, that free to be who I am made to be.”

Johnson said the story will connect with people who struggle with living a life they don’t want to live, all because of other people’s expectations.

“It caused me to realize one I’m not alone, connect with other people in a real meaningful way,”

Johnson said he is excited to bring his story to live on a stage that has a unique story of its own at Windwalker, located at 125 S. Cochran in Charlotte.

“Caleb, his story, and his amazingly talented way of sharing that story through expert illusions mesh perfectly with the energy that flows through the Windwalker building,” said Kalli Dempsey, Windwalker board member. This will be the largest production we have brought to the Windwalker stage, and we are honored that Caleb will be debuting this show in downtown Charlotte. This is a must see event that you will not want to miss.”

Tickets are just $15 and can be purchased at Windwalker or online at winderwalkerunderground.com/events/theruse.

Potterville

Potterville

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Vermontville

Vermontville

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