Organic gardening kits, sustainably produced wines, foraged violets … here are the planet-loving products and experiences our editors at Traverse Northern Michigan are obsessed with this month.

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Allison’s Swoon:

Allison’s Swoon:

Foraged Violets

My favorite spring ritual: scouring the forest floor for the season’s first wild violets. There’s something so joyous about spotting the brightly-hued gems and inhaling the powdery, floral scent as I pluck and place each blossom into my basket. It’s my moment of Zen.

For the last couple of years, I’ve carried that spring meditation into the kitchen as well, making a violet simple syrup to add to lemonade, tea or a gin and tonic. (I love Traverse City Whiskey Co.’s Verse Gin or Ethanology’s Eros Summer Gin.) I pop the petals into ice cube trays to make said drinks even more festive and add blossoms to salads and charcuterie boards. (Tip: Press them onto a log of goat cheese from The Cheese Lady and drizzle with Harbor View’s lavender honey for the prettiest—and tastiest—presentation.)

If you decide to venture into the woods this month, bring along a field guide to identify what you’re picking, and make sure the area you’re foraging is pesticide-free. And remember: it’s illegal to pick wildflowers on state, federal or conservancy land. Happy hunting!

Wild Violets in the woods

Photo by Allison Jarrell


This spring simple syrup is perfect to add to lemonade, tea, cocktails or mocktails. It's violet season in Northern Michigan, so plan your foraging trip soon! 💜 Ingredients: 🌸 2 cups rinsed violet petals loosely packed, leaves and stems removed 🌸 1 cup water 🌸 1 cup sugar 🌸 lemon juice (optional) For the full step-by-step recipe and tips for foraging, head to ✨ ♬ Choking on Flowers - Fox Academy

Cara’s Swoon:

Cara’s Swoon:

Easy Organic Garden Transplants

I inherited some neglected raised beds in my new yard and now I have big plans to grow some of my own food and create a tiny pollinator haven. But here’s the truth: A.) I’ve never grown a garden from seed B.) I prefer to spend free afternoons at the beach vs. in the garden C.) I think I’d enjoy less garden guesswork, and less, well, work.

Enter the plant sale at Lakeview Hill Farm just outside Traverse City. Starting in April, you can pre-order organic transplants, including vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, native grasses and wildflowers, all cultivated for success in our growing zone—and which support local small-farm business sustainability, too. Transplant pre-orders are available from April 1 through May 12 and can be picked up during the first week of the annual plant sale in May from their farm overlooking Lake Leelanau.

Fun find: Take the guesswork out with their pre-designed kits—Beginner Gardener, Cut Flower Garden and Backyard Herb Garden.

Shopping the plant sale

Photo by Cara McDonald

Photo by Fresh Exchange

Woman holding up plant in greenhouse

Photo by Lakeview Hill Farm

Carly’s Swoon:

Carly’s Swoon:

WaterFire Vineyards’ Sustainable Wines

When I first visited WaterFire Vineyards’ tasting room in Kewadin a few years ago I was immediately drawn to the porch. It overlooks tidy rows of grapes, through which Finley the vineyard dog was walking, and gently rolling, tree-lined hills. A birds-eye view would have revealed the turquoise waters of Torch Lake less than a mile away. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Keeping the health of these special lands and lakes surrounding the vineyard top of mind, owners Chantal Lefebvre (a former environmental scientist) and Mike Newman earned their Sustainability in Practice (SIP) certification in 2017. The rigorous process requires growers to farm in a way that protects both natural and human resources, taking it a step beyond organic certification, which focuses on synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. SIP vineyards and wineries must also offer competitive wages and medical insurance to employees, use alternative fuels and energy sources, introduce beneficial insects, grow grasses to reduce erosion, filter water for reuse and more. Shoutout: Shady Lane Cellars in Suttons Bay also earned SIP certification in 2020.

Chilling in my fridge right now: WaterFire’s 2020 Dry Riesling. A food-friendly bottling with notes of pineapple, citrus and pear.

WaterFire Vineyards outdoor view

Photo by WaterFire Vineyards

WaterFire Vineyards vine posts in vineyard

Photo by WaterFire Vineyards