Stories indexed with the term ‘Slow Food Huron Valley’

City Notifies Selma Cafe of Zoning Violation

The city of Ann Arbor has sent a notice of zoning violation to the popular Selma Cafe, a weekly home-based breakfast gathering that raises money for local farmers and farming activities.

Selma Cafe, Lisa Gottlieb, zoning, Ann Arbor planning, Food System Economic Partnership, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

A map posted earlier this year on the Selma Cafe website aimed to address parking and traffic concerns in the neighborhood.

The group has also received notice that the nonprofit Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP) has decided to end its fiscal sponsorship of Selma Cafe, citing “significant violations” of the terms in a memorandum of understanding between the two entities. The FSEP board voted to make the move in late March.

But it’s the zoning violations that could force a dramatic change in Selma Cafe, which often draws more than 200 people to the home of co-founder Lisa Gottlieb, located near Eberwhite Elementary School. The letter, dated April 3 from city planning manager Wendy Rampson, notes that home occupations are allowed in residential areas, but with certain restrictions. The letter states that Selma Cafe violates those restrictions in three ways: (1) more people are involved in the operation than are allowed under city code; (2) more than the permitted 10 vehicle trips per day are generated; and (3) the need for parking is not being met.

Reached by phone on Friday, Gottlieb said she plans to hand-deliver a response to the city on Monday. She believes the parking, traffic and congestion issues are resolved, and she is actively pursuing two other locations as possible venues for the weekly breakfasts. She disagrees with the city’s interpretation of the code, noting that Selma Cafe is not a business and the people who work there are volunteers, not employees. Although she hopes to continue holding the breakfasts, she said at this point it’s unclear how things will play out and whether that will be possible.

Gottlieb noted that one neighbor had criticized Selma Cafe for bringing thousands of people to the neighborhood since they started in 2009. Although the neighbor had cited that as a negative thing, Gottlieb said to her it seemed “pretty incredible” that the effort had been able to engage so many people in raising money for the local foodshed, keeping money in the community and helping local farmers.

Regarding the issues raised by FSEP, Gottlieb explained that she had withdrawn funds from the FSEP-managed bank account to transfer into a new account created as Selma Cafe transitions to become an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit. She had not first informed FSEP of the withdrawal, as required under terms of the memorandum of understanding. Even if that had not occurred, she added, “the fact is they wanted to be done with us.”

Obtaining the nonprofit status is taking longer than anticipated, so Selma Cafe is seeking another fiscal sponsor. Until that happens, the funds for Selma that remain in the FSEP-managed account – which total about $40,000 – are frozen. If no new fiscal sponsor is found and Selma does not obtain its 501(c)3 designation by May 31, FSEP could take the Selma assets permanently, under terms of the MOU. If that happened, FSEP would need to allocate those funds “in any manner consistent with applicable tax and charitable trust laws and other obligations.” [Full Story]

Column: Pies, Politics, Polls

“Pie lovers … unite!”

As over 50 people throw their fists into the air, the contest resembles a superhero’s meeting more than a pie competition. On Sunday, July 24, Slow Food Huron Valley (SFHV) hosted its 5th annual Pie Lovers Unite! event at the Ypsilanti Ladies Literary Club. Most participants easily fit the “pie lover” label, considering themselves connoisseurs of crusts and aficionados of fillings.

Chronicle Pie Lovers Cutouts

Cardboard cutouts of the five wards of the city of Ann Arbor – not arranged in their actual geographic proximity to each other. (Photo for art by the writer)

But consistent with The Chronicle’s appetite for all things government-related, we could not simply let them eat pie. Instead, we brought handmade cardboard cutouts of Ann Arbor’s five wards and asked a roomful of pie enthusiasts which ward most resembles a slice of pie.


At its July 5 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council discussed redrawing the boundaries for the city’s five wards. And the city charter states: “The five wards should each have the general character of a pieshaped segment of the city with the point of such segment lying near the center of the city …” That discussion revealed that at least one councilmember holds some reservations about whether the current wards really are pie-shaped wedges of the city.

Kim Bayer, the program coordinator of Pie Lovers Unite!, began the night’s festivities by articulating the event’s mission beyond eating pie: “To strengthen our region’s food system, build community food security, and preserve our culinary heritage.”

She continued, saying, “When something is made from love, you can taste it.” [Full Story]

Column: The 10% Local Food Challenge

Eating Thin Mints recently got me thinking about locally produced food.

Two buttons supporting locally grown food

Many participants in the March 2 Homegrown Food Summit wore buttons like these, supporting locally grown food. (Photos by the writer.)

It’s Girl Scout cookie season, and on Saturday – after swinging through the Ann Arbor Farmers Market – I encountered a Brownie and her dad set up at the corner of Main and Liberty, their table loaded with boxes of Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs and an assortment of other cookies that I remember selling too, back in the day. I bought three boxes.

At $3.50 per box, the cookies aren’t outrageously priced – though the boxes seem to get smaller every year. But later, in doing a quick calculation of all the food I’d bought that day, I realized that in buying those cookies, I’d failed to meet a challenge I’d heard earlier in the week: Spend 10% of your food budget on locally produced food.

The “10% Washtenaw” challenge was issued at the Homegrown Local Food Summit, a day-long event on March 2 that drew over 200 people to the Dana Building on the University of Michigan campus. Many of the people at the summit already surpass that goal in a fairly dramatic way. The real challenge, organizers acknowledge, is how to convince the rest of us to do the same. [Full Story]

Local Food Isn’t Just for Eating

“How about a round of applause for beets?!” Kim Bayer asked the group gathered for dinner on Thursday night.

Slow Food Huron Valley

The table was filled at the potluck for Slow Food Huron Valley, held at Hathaway's Hideaway on South Ashley. To make it a zero-waste event, people brought their own dishware. (Photos by the writer.)

When a room of people cheers for root vegetables – and later, for pie – there’s probably a theme at hand. On Thursday, the theme was locally grown food, fêted at a potluck hosted by Slow Food Huron Valley. The 30 or so people at Hathaway’s Hideaway on South Ashley heard an update on the nonprofit’s activities over the past year, and got a preview of what’s to come in 2010.

There was also plenty to eat and drink: Derby sandwiches (with pickles, bacon and mayo), parmigiano pumpkin soup with prosciutto, spinach walnut pesto, vegan “slop,” sweet potato pie – most of these and other dishes made from locally grown or produced food.

The connection between the meal and the mission of Slow Food Huron Valley was clear, as Bayer – a member of the group’s leadership team – told the diners: “Good food needs to be a basic human right.” [Full Story]

Friday Mornings @SELMA Finds a Home

Nametags from people whove attended Friday Mornings

Nametags from people who've attended Friday Mornings @SELMA await their return. The tags are stuck to cabinets in a laundry room/entryway. (Photo by the writer.)

The Chronicle recently reported an amicable resolution between local government officials and organizers of an event in an arguably unorthodox location: An art show in an industrial park.

Many of the same elements were a part of the saga of Friday Mornings @SELMA: An event in an unorthodox location, a spike of concern from local officials that raised the specter of shutting it down, compromise, and an ultimate resolution that satisfies regulatory issues while keeping this fundraising event alive.

“It’s always cool when the government does something that makes sense,” said Lisa Gottlieb, who runs Friday Mornings @SELMA with her husband, Jeff McCabe, and a corps of volunteers.

What exactly is Friday Mornings @SELMA? Why did the government get involved, and what did they do that “makes sense”? And how is all of this related to the local food movement? We tell the tale after the break. [Full Story]

Slow Down, You Eat Too Fast

at Wednesday Slow Food Huron Valley annual dinner.

Molly Notarianni, manager of the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, was one of about 40 people at Wednesday's Slow Food Huron Valley annual dinner, held at Hathaway's Hideaway.

At Hathaway’s Hideaway on Wednesday night it was all about the food, as members of Slow Food Huron Valley gathered for their annual dinner with a potluck feast made mostly from … yes, locally grown food.

Potato chowder, cabbage salad, wild rice with Michigan cherries and walnuts, pumpkin pie, foraged greengage plum jam bars, wine from nearby Lone Oak Vineyard Estate – plates were full and so was a long dining table decorated with holiday garlands.

It was a night to talk about the year’s accomplishments – and there were many.

[Full Story]

Michigan v. Ohio: Winners in Wine

Joel Goldberg and Heidi Kavanuk

Joel Goldberg inspects a pouring of white wine – either from Michigan or Ohio – as Heidi Kabanuk, Vinology's wine director, brings out more offerings to be judged on Sunday evening. A similar wine judging took place the following night in Columbus, Ohio.

“Did you hear why the Michigan-Ohio State game might be canceled? Because Michigan can’t get past Toledo.”

David Creighton told the joke while sitting at a table in Vinology’s Bubble Room with Joel Goldberg and Claudia Tyagi, waiting to be served 30 glasses of wine. Each. Everyone laughed – and they weren’t even hammered.

In fact, despite the fact that plenty of people who are focused on the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry this weekend will be intent on getting hammered, the gathering at Vinology on Sunday evening had an entirely different goal: To highlight the quality of each states’ wines, in the setting of a friendly competition staged in Ann Arbor and Columbus.

Here’s some words about the event for you to savor before we reveal the winners, but if you read The Chronicle like you drink your wine – straight from the bottle in one long chug – scroll right down to the bottom. [Full Story]