For this particular venture – the magazine you see in front of you – I had been doing my due diligence for what seemed like forever. Every few months I flew back and forth from Boston, where I was living at the time, to try and wrap my head around my home city’s suddenly (to me) electric food scene. I thought of a hundred reasons why I shouldn’t do it. I then thought of many more reasons why I should. After consulting with advisors, family, and friends, I decided to take the leap, returning home after 10 years away and eventually finding myself within a community that seems to care a whole lot about fostering local food and businesses.
These businesses all face similar financial and economic challenges, whether they are just beginning and trying to raise capital, or scaling up to meet an increased demand. The key to their struggles is your support.
My story isn’t unique – our holiday issue this year is full of people who went through the same process I did and decided to open businesses here in Wisconsin. Some are in the early stages. We met Yollande Deacon, the firecracker behind Afro Fusion Cuisine, a company that translates global flavors using local ingredients. We visited Sugar Bee Farm, a new mushroom-growing operation that has cropped up in a renovated warehouse on the South Side. We talked to Martha Davis Kipcak, whose work at the Center for Resilient Cities and new gig as proprietress of Martha’s Mighty Fine Food has given her real insight into the risks and rewards local food producers face. We got to know the gatekeepers, who determine which local food businesses get to come through the gates and appear on shelves, at markets and on menus.
Other businesses we spoke to have been around for quite some time, with still so much to look forward to. We headed out to LaClare Farms to talk with the Hedrich family, who has been instrumental in pioneering the dairy goat industry in our state. Lastly, I don’t want to forget to mention our community partners, whose work in our city and beyond is putting our region on the map as a great place to live and work – and even to start and sustain a business.
These businesses all face similar financial and economic challenges, whether they are just beginning and trying to raise capital, or scaling up to meet an increased demand. The key to their struggles is your support. By reading Edible Milwaukee, you’re already supporting a local company. Please, this holiday season, take it a step further and buy as much as you can locally. It means the world to our local economy, and represents a tangible opportunity for you to help and see your neighbors thrive.
Yours in local food,