Rex Dobson and the Ruby Ellen Farm

I just finished up the new website for the Rex Dobson Ruby Ellen Farm Foundation. It’s a 160-acre farm on the Leelanau Peninsula that was preserved in perpetuity by owner Rex Dobson. Rex was certainly an anomaly : a single farmer who was successful in what is definitely a family dominated field. What’s more, he was one of the pioneers of farmland preservation and collected a TON of farming artifacts.

One of the coolest things about the project is that I was able to bring back to the internet a video produced by my childhood friend and bad-ass photographer Carl Ganter (now the mastermind of Circle of Blue) called With These Hands. Rex had a starring role – enjoy!

(Michigan) Strawberry Fields Forever

Over on Absolute Michigan we got the news that strawberries are showing up in southeast Michigan, which means that before too long, they’ll be up here in northern Michigan along with their good friend SHORTCAKE! Click over for a bowlful of Michigan Strawberry goodness!

I love this song…

Sap, Syrup, Spring

Tap in Big Maple, photo by Allan L McFarlane

Today I blogged a photo from Jim Sorbie to Michigan in Pictures.

Bucket of Sap, photo by Allan L McFarlaneI looooooove maple syrup.

We used to make it when I was a kid, tapping the maples on M-22 by our house. The whole process is one of my favorite memories, and I can’t begin to describe how good it felt to bring a metal cup our and drink cup after cup of sub-freezing sap before school while I waited for the bus!

Here’s a NYT article about what the South Koreans feel about drinking maple sap:

Unlike North Americans who collect maple sap to boil down into syrup, Korean villagers and their growing number of customers prefer the sap itself, which they credit with a wide range of health benefits.

In this they are not alone. Some people in Japan and northern China drink maple sap, and birch sap has its fans in Russia and other parts of northern Europe. But no one surpasses southern Koreans in their enthusiasm for maple sap, which they can consume in prodigious quantities.

“The right way is to drink an entire mal” — 20 liters, or about 5 gallons — “at once,” said Yeo Manyong, a 72-year-old farmer in Hadong. “That’s what we do. And that’s what gorosoe lovers from the outside do when they visit our village.”

But how can you drink the equivalent of more than 50 beer cans of sap at one go?

“You and your family or friends get yourselves a room with a heated floor,” Mr. Yeo said, taking a break under a maple tree in Hadong, 180 miles south of Seoul. “You keep drinking while, let’s say, playing cards. Salty snacks like dried fish help because they make you thirsty. The idea is to sweat out all the bad stuff and replace it with sap.”

For more about how syrup is made, check out The Cycle of Sweetness: From Sap to Maple Syrup. You can also read a little about how Native Americans made maple sugaron Michigan in Pictures. Absolute Michigan has more Michigan maple syrup features & links.

The photos were taken by my dad, Allan L. McFarlane.

Michigan in Pictures … and some asparagus

empire asparagus festival 2010

Been kind of busy, but as usual I have been having a great time on Michigan in Pictures. It’s pretty much my favorite thing about the internet.

Recent highlights are Ernie Harwell, Banksy, Obama’s address at the Big House and the Asparagus Festival (where I was today!)

Seriously though. THE Banksy was in Detroit!

Even more seriously though, what part of the soul of Michigan rests in Ernie Harwell’s voice on a summer night?

What I’m doing instead of blogging…

Traverse City Wine & Art Festival posterI know that I totally blew the “Ben Wallace is back” NBA Comix … I probably could have done a whole week’s worth on that topic. Sorry about that.

I’ve been working on the Traverse City Wine & Art Festival.

It’s the first annual of what I hope will be many and happens Saturday August 22 from 5-10 PM at the Grand Traverse Commons in front of Building 50 on the lawn under the big tent.

The evening will feature wines from 22 wineries from the Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas and a selection of Traverse City and Leelanau restaurants serving food & desserts along with fantastic music from Rojo Loco, Jay Webber and Thom Jayne and the Nomads.

I’m amazed at how much work there is involved in putting together a major festival and so grateful that we’ve been able to assemble such an amazing team of volunteers and staff to put this event on.

Things are really coming together and I think everyone who attends will have a fantastic time – hope you’re there! Here’s the headliner: