A historic Centennial barn, a beautiful summer evening, a performance from an internationally-acclaimed musical guest, and plenty of Baia wines and Arbor Brewing Company beers helped set the atmosphere for a fun evening in support of a very serious cause—the protection of vital water resources in the Great Lakes Basin.

The 2018 midsummer event was to raise funding for FLOW (For Love of Water), a Traverse City-based nonprofit

that seeks “to educate citizens and leaders about protecting the Great Lakes as a commons held in public trust now and for future generations.”

The event took place at Cherry Basket Farm in Omena, Michigan, just a few miles from the Baia Estate vineyard and the Michigan Hop Alliance hop farm, which supplies hops for Arbor Brewing Company. The adult beverages were donated for the FLOW fundraiser by Michigan-based Farm + Ferment, which owns both Baia Estate and Arbor Brewing.

“We strongly support the work of FLOW in protecting this region’s precious water resources, which are under constant threat from harmful ventures that do not take the public good as a first priority,” said Michael Chetcuti, principal at Farm + Ferment.

“Our Baia wines and beer from Arbor Brewing are actual products of the Great Lakes watershed, and entirely dependent on the purity of this great freshwater resource,” added Michael Collins, also principal at Farm + Ferment. “It is in the interest of great quality at Arbor Brewing and Baia Estate and the health of our families that these waters get a strong defense from the people of FLOW.”

Aside from great beverages and delicious food supplied by the Omena-based caterers Epicure Catering, the evening featured a 90-minute solo acoustic concert from Grammy-winning mandolinist and singer Chris Thile. The world-class musician is also host of the public radio variety program “Live from Here” (formerly “A Prairie Home Companion”). An audience of more than 200 sat mesmerized as Chris performed in Cherry Basket Farm’s windswept Centennial barn.

Guests, including several members of the Arbor Brewing and Baia Estate teams, made significant financial contributions to support this great cause. FLOW is a dynamic legal and lobbying firm that represents the interests of ordinary citizens before government agencies that oversee regional water resources. Many of the interests the group is fighting are high-profile cases that are in today’s headlines:

  • Line 5 Pipeline: The pipeline is made up of two 20″ pipes that carry nearly 23 million gallons of oil and natural gas liquids daily. Line 5 has failed 29 times since 1968, spilling at least 1.13 million gallons of oil. These 65-year-old pipelines run at depths between 100 and 270 feet in the Straits of Mackinac, directly exposed to the water. FLOW lobbies to have Line 5 shut down.
  • Corporate bottled water operations: FLOW founder and president Jim Olson joined forces with Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation to help reduce water diversion by Nestle Corporation by more than 50% in 2009. However they must continue to fight new efforts by Nestle to raise diversions back to original levels.
  • Get off the Bottle: Bottled water costs up to 2,000 times more by volume than tap water. In buying bottled
    water, consumers are inadvertently legitimizing the capture of water that belongs to all of us by private, for-profit companies who reap unearned, enormous riches.
  • Aquaculture: Most aquaculture operations proposed for the Great Lakes region would be highly toxic to the environment. Aquaculture farms create waste laden with nitrogen and phosphorous, inevitably lead to the escape of domesticated fish species, and bring increased risk of disease to native aquamarine life.

Pure, clean water is at the heart of all that we do at Baia Estate and Arbor Brewing Company. We will continue to support FLOW and its defense of the ancient Public Defense Doctrine of Law. This founding principle, which dates back to Roman times, empowers citizens and governments to protect our waters and bottomlands of the Great Lakes as a commons, owned and shared by the public for the use and enjoyment of all for drinking, fishing, swimming, navigation, and recreation.

For more information on the important work being done by FLOW, go to www.flowforwater.org.

Photo credits Beth Price Photography – https://printshop-bethpricephotography.com/