Food entrepreneur chills out with new farm to table concept

Danielle Welke put the idea of farm to table on ice when she launched her own business based on a chilly trend she noticed on the east and west coasts.
 
Beginning in early spring, Welke ramped up her production of handcrafted ice pops from Michigan ingredients—and began her quest to freeze the season at its best. MI Pops debuted at the Allen Street Farmer's Market in late May, quenching thirsts and satisfying cravings with flavors like hibiscus rhubarb, rhubarb elderflower, strawberry, strawberry-rhubarb, Thai ice tea and coffee.
 
"I think we're ready for this in Michigan," says Welke of the artisan ice pop experience. "We have fresh fruit here, the combinations will be good, and there's nothing like it here in the Lansing area."
 
Earlier this year, Welke invested in an ice pop machine, molds and got licensed to produce her icy treats at a shared commercial kitchen in Webberville. She says she came upon the idea after months of soul-searching and realizing that her path to career happiness resided in the food business.
 
"Plus, I love Michigan," she says. "I'm a Michigan girl all the way—grew up in Detroit, went to school in Marquette, lived in Traverse City, and now live here in Mason, traveling around the state and picking fruits to make pops."
 
Welke says the flavors of her artisan pops will parallel Michigan's growing season. Currently rooted in rhubarb, she'll begin crafting cool flavors based on what she can pick: from strawberries, to blueberries, to melons, to apples and peaches. She'll also venture into creative combinations of fruits and herbs, sourcing many of her ingredients from local farms. Her goal, she says, is to have at least 75 percent of her flavors derived from Michigan—with no preservatives, colorings and dyes.
 
"It's all trial and error," she says. "I'll be spending my days picking and processing and freezing, and then getting them out for packaging and out to customers."
 
Welke says she'll be doing a farmer's market circuit that started with Allen Street, and will extend to South Lansing. She'll be vending at events in REO Town, and is available to create and provide pops for children's parties, bridal showers, and other private gatherings. She's also investigating the possibility of partnering with other farmers in community supported agriculture ventures over the winter months.
 
Source: Danielle Welke, Owner, MI Pops
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
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