Learn Great Foods

Learn Great Foods

Learn Great Foods' mission is to educate consumers about where our food comes from and how it is grown.

January 2014

Having a unique business idea that combines supporting local agriculture with tourism is not just a good idea for Ann Dougherty’s Petoskey based business - Learn Great Foods - it is award winning! In a recent award ceremony in Lansing, MI. Learn Great Foods were honored to receive the MSU Product Centers’ Best Innovative Business Award for 2008.

From left: Wendy Wieland, SBTDC/NLEA Business Counselor; Ann Dougherty, Learn Great Foods; Brian Braddock, NLEA Board Chair

From left: Wendy Wieland, SBTDC/NLEA Business Counselor; Ann Dougherty, Learn Great Foods; Brian Braddock, NLEA Board Chair

Learn Great Foods encompasses sustainable farming, private tours of local farms, along with cooking classes to provide both an educational and entertainment experience for their

guests. Those attending one of Anns tours may visit a Cheboygan County bison farm, a local vegetable grower, which is supported by the Emmet County, or an Antrim fruit grower. Ann Dougherty’s business provides guests an up-close look at the operations of sustainable and organic farms while having the opportunity to ask local farmers and vintners questions about anything, from growing techniques to ecological issues. Tour destinations include organic beef and dairy farms, fruit/vegetable farms, wineries, creameries and local coffee roasters. Culinary adventures include a gourmet feast of just-picked vegetables prepared by a local chef. Guests are able to enjoy their meal in the ambiance of what Northern Michigan has to offer in the company of new friends.

Business collaboration and technical assistance has helped Ms. Dougherty grow her business, which has tripled its sales in 2008. Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, a satellite office of Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center (MI-SBTDC) Region 2, began working with Learn Great Foods (LGF) in 2006. Wendy Wieland, an Innovation Counselor with the MSU Product Center, as well as a Certified Business Consultant with the MI-SBTDC assisted Ann Dougherty launch LGF. Through the no-cost confidential business counseling offered, LGF had access to market research, strategic planning, operational advice and other business assistance services.

“Out of the five business counselors I have met with over the past five years, Northern Lakes Economic Alliance was the only one to completely understand the business model and how it would affect the whole community,” said Dougherty. “Their research and advice have been right to the point. I think it’s because they have such a strong Agricultural focus.” The businesses’ informal mantra is: To connect customers to the source of their food- one mouth at a time.