MyNorth News Service

(Press Release provided by Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities)

TRAVERSE CITY: Chip Hoagland—dubbed the “Warren Buffet of Food” in a recent Traverse Magazine feature—will be honored with the Milliken Leadership Award by the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities on Saturday, October 8 at the nonprofit’s annual Harvest at the Commons celebration. Tickets to the event, including dinner and entertainment, cost $45 and are available at MyNorthTickets.


Hoagland owns Tamarack Holdings, a group of food and beverage companies, including the innovative food distribution company Cherry Capital Foods, the largest purveyor of northwest Michigan-grown products and a key instigator behind this region’s local food economy growing by leaps and bounds since he acquired it in 2008. Also under the Tamarack Holdings umbrella is Earthy Delights, a company that for 30 years has provided unique artisanal products and ingredients—with a specialty in foraged and wild produce—to chefs and passionate home cooks. Hoagland also launched the Institute for Sustainable Foraging this spring to certify and promote sustainable foraging methods.

Groundwork (previously called the Michigan Land Use Institute) created the Milliken Leadership Award to recognize community leaders who embody the legacy of former Michigan governor, and Traverse City resident, Gov. William Milliken and the late Helen Milliken, and the belief that a clean, healthy environment is necessary for a prosperous economy.

Hoagland joins an esteemed list of previous award winners that includes: former U.S. Senator Carl Levin (2015); developer of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, Ray Minervini (2014); U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (2013); Black Star Farms co-founder Don Coe (2012), and Crystal Mountain Resort CEO Jim MacInnes (2011).

“Our annual Milliken Leadership Award is about carrying forward the incredible and inspiring legacy of Helen and Governor Milliken by honoring a truly exceptional individual who is making a lasting difference for the environment and the economy,” says Groundwork executive director Hans Voss, who called Hoagland an innovator and entrepreneur. “Chip Hoagland is the perfect recipient. He has been as important as anyone to helping northwest Michigan grow a thriving local food economy.”

Hoagland has personally helped the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities advocate for sustainable communities, equitable food access, environmental protection and public transit solutions.

“Groundwork is extremely fortunate to have a man of Chip’s intellect, creativity, and commitment as a member of our board of directors,” added Voss. “This region is better off as a result of his impressive body of work.”

Northern Michigan’s “Warren Buffet of food” will be honored during Groundwork’s Harvest at the Commons, an annual celebration on the lawn of the revitalized Grand Traverse Commons, which brings together more than 600 people to celebrate with a farm-to-table feast and raise funds for community resilience. The fundraiser runs from 5 to 10 p.m., costs $45 per person including dinner, and includes live music performed by The Crane Wives as well as a silent pie auction.

The Harvest feast features some of the region’s finest food purveyors, chefs, and mixologists. Dinner is being prepared by Simon Joseph, owner of Harvest Restaurant and Gaijin, as well as chef Fred Laughlin and students from The Great Lakes Culinary Institute. The bar, sponsored by The Little Fleet, will serve libations from Short’s Brewing Co., Mammoth Distilling, Black Star Farms, Bonobo and Cultured Ferments. This Certified Local Food Event is committed to zero-waste initiatives and features a menu sourced almost 100 percent locally.

“Harvest at the Commons is more than an event,” Voss says. “It’s a celebration of community and resilience. The people who attend are committed to sustainability for not only this region, but the state, and the diversity of thinkers and thought leaders who attend is a testament to a community that’s motivated to thrive.”

Thought leaders like Chip Hoagland, a business leader who is constantly thinking about the next challenge, and the next solution.

“I wonder if his mind is ever at rest,” says Black Star Farms co-founder Don Coe. “Like many visionaries his interests are broad, but in his case, he follows through with direct action on projects that interest him and he challenges others to become involved.”

Hoagland’s innovation can be infectious. He has helped other northwest Michigan food businesses expand, and he is a one-man engine for economic growth. One of his next projects is to fund new research that studies how “agro-forestry” foraged foods can be harvested sustainably and profitably.

“Chip is not only a leader and entrepreneur, but he is also a teacher and facilitator of success,” says John Di Giacomo, an attorney with Revision Legal and board member of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority. “He genuinely wants to help entrepreneurs within our community succeed and he has often worked selflessly and at cost to himself to ensure that they do. And he is a good and kind person.”

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Photo(s) by Todd Zawistowski