PHOTO RELEASE: Gary McDowell, Director of MDARD, and Sarah Lucas, Deputy Director of the Office of Rural Development, tour Right Brain Brewery, Leelanau Cheese Co. and 9 Rows of Beans in Traverse City

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Today Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Gary McDowell and Office of Rural Development (ORD) Deputy Director Sarah Lucas visited several local food and agricultural businesses in Traverse City, including Right Brain Brewery, Leelanau Cheese Co., and 9 Rows of Beans. McDowell continues to travel across the state to meet with food and agriculture businesses as they move forward during Michigan’s economic recovery.

“Michigan’s food and agriculture businesses are a driving force for the state’s economy, and we want to continue supporting these businesses,” said McDowell. “Speaking with local business owners and learning how MDARD can help their local business thrive is the best part of these tours. We want local businesses in our state to know that MDARD is here to help them grow.”

In 2007, Russell Springsteen opened a brewery and pub in the Traverse City warehouse district, making the kind of creative beer he always wanted. In 2022, the pub and production facility moved to 16th Street in the SoFo neighborhood of Traverse City. The Right Brain’s Pub always offers over 30 beers on tap. With over 150,000 visitors a year, the pub is family run with a connection to the local community.

Right Brain also produces and sells draft and packaged beer (bottles and cans) distributed to hundreds of retailers throughout the State of Michigan.

Leelanau Cheese is a staple business within the local Northwest Michigan food community. In 1995, John and Anne Hoyt established Leelanau Cheese and, over 25 years, have developed a local and international reputation for their award-winning, cellar-aged, European-style cheeses. Today, under the direction of cheesemakers Gary Smith and Josh Hall, Leelanau Cheese Co. continues the tradition of bringing the flavors of the region to life.

9 Bean Rows grows healthy, delicious food for the Northern Michigan community by growing food, not commodities. With that in mind, the nutritional content and flavor of their vegetables are at the top of their priority list.

In 2013, 9 Bean Rows received a grant for a commercial laundry station for public school salad bars in Leelanau County. After years of providing year-round mixed green salads to Leland Public School, they have been able to increase production and provide farm-fresh, chemical-free produce to students in Frankfort, Leland, Glen Lake, Suttons Bay, Leelanau School, and Northport, as well as several schools in the Traverse City area public school system.

Throughout 2022, Director McDowell meets with Michigan’s food and agriculture businesses to discuss how they can continue to thrive in Michigan’s new economy and how MDARD can best contribute to their continued development.

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