Fall offers bounty of opportunities

Fall may pull us back from deep dives into the Great Lakes, but it provides another full season for a walk along the shore to enjoy the richness of the land. The brilliant colors are given depth in the forefront of the world’s largest bodies of fresh water and along inland rivers and streams. The cover photo by John McCormick expertly captures the beauty of this melding of rivers and land, a rich mixture for Michigan vintners, orchards and farms.

Michigan BLUE, this month, offers readers a photo feature of fall in the vineyards, noting the industry is emphasized by Michigan’s No. 6 rank in wine production in the U.S. The state holds firm to fifth for wine grape production.

The fertility of land and water also underscores nature’s fall food bounty, which provides unique flourishes for gourmets and flavorful sustenance fit for fireside cooks. Every craving can be satisfied from Michigan land and waters, from fresh fish, fruits and vegetables, and includes locally produced wine, beer or distillery cocktails.

The annual Michigan salmon run is a few weeks from finishing, and the state boasts some of the best salmon fisheries in the country, except Alaska. Rivers from Muskegon to the Upper Peninsula and the lakes offer up ample supply. Fall also brings a richness of steelhead fishing as the months of October and November are touted as some of the best of the year. Columnist Bob Gwizdz takes readers on a tour of Barothy Lodge, nestled along the Pere Marquette, one of the best trout streams in the Midwest.

Those who walk or bike through the woods of autumn have many opportunities to spot and pick the bounty of mushrooms now apparent, of which there are several varieties. BLUE contributor Leslie Mertz interviewed Zack Schroeder, executive director and executive chef at Les Cheneaux Culinary School in the U.P. near Drummond Island. The chef shares his excitement for black trumpets; the gourmet’s delight, chanterelle; honey mushrooms and chicken of the woods (and a recipe for mushroom soup).

Farmers markets across the state are brimming with fall bounty (as are the roadside stands spotting every color-tour trail). Another feature this month gives some love to a 200-tree fruit orchard — in the middle of the city of Detroit. It is one part of the two-acre urban garden in the North End. The project is led by the nonprofit Michigan Urban Farming Initiative and includes a children’s sensory garden. Harvested and run by volunteers, the urban garden offers fresh, free produce to more than 2,000 households.

The story on agritourism offers readers a step beyond farm-to-table restaurant visits — and sometimes face-to-face with yaks, sheep, alpaca and Angus cows. The story starts on page 48.

Carole Valade
Editor, Michigan BLUE Magazine