Ypsilanti’s Thriving Local Scene
Only six miles East of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti has a thriving local food and art community. Once home to a variety of industries—flour, lumber, wool, cigars and cars—the preserved 19th century buildings now serve as coffee shops, hip clothiers and local markets.
Ypsilanti Food Co-op is located in the Mill Works building in historic Depot Town. Owned and operated by its customers, Ypsilanti Food Co-op offers high-quality local food and goods. Shoppers can find cheese, milk, meats, grains, produce and specialty items all produced by local farms and businesses.
By shopping at a food co-op, food dollars stay in the community. Ypsilanti Food Co-Op sold $1.4 million of products from local growers and producers last year alone. The co-op even has its own bakery called River St. Bakery with a solar powered oven and its own bee yard adjacent to the building called Honeybee Alley.
Another way to support local food is through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Individuals purchase directly from the farms seasonal bounty for a fee and receive a box of farm fresh produce for home consumption. Often the challenge of these produce boxes is to use all the produce and create meals. Mary Wessel Walker, owner of Harvest Kitchen in Ypsilanti, has solved this problem by preparing ready-to-go meals with all the local, farm sourced products.
Her customers can sign up for complete fresh meals weekly or take home freezer meals in perfectly portioned containers. Creative seasonal meals such as North African vegetable stew with cous cous and Indonesian rice salad are a few of the delicious choices. Frog Holler Organic Farm, Goetz Farm, Tantre Farm and Westwind Milling Company are just some of the local farms and products Harvest Kitchen supports.
With more chefs understanding the local food system, seasonal menus in restaurants are also more prevalent. Close to the Downtown Ypsilanti Farmers’ Market is a restaurant called Bona Sera. Once an underground supper club, Bona Sera is now an established restaurant open for lunch and dinner. They focus on fusing local ingredients with their own interpretation of classic dishes such as their homemade buttery grits. Grits come topped with shrimp or seitan for the vegetarians and house made porchetta for the meat lovers. They also prepare baked goods and mac & cheese for other local coffee shops and restaurants.
Please let us know about your favorite way Ypsilanti supports the local food system.