For the past dozen-plus years, Bloomfield Hills couple Kate & Robb Harper operated what they have often referred to as their “passion project” — a full-color, photo-heavy magazine chronicling the development of Detroit’s local food scene.
The most recent cover of EdibleWOW.They founded the magazine EdibleWOW at a time when Detroit’s revitalization still seemed like a far-off dream, when urban farms were more of a rumor than a reality, and when the idea of local food seemed like something from California. In the ensuing years, the magazine has covered not only the rise of a local food ecosystem but the resurgence of a city.
In April, the Harpers decided to hand over the reins, selling the magazine to Jeremy Abbey and John Piazza, co-founders and executive directors of Detroit-based culinary arts nonprofit Soil2Service.
“We are incredibly grateful to all the food system leaders, farmers, food artisans, chefs, designers, advertisers, and amazing contributors who helped launch EdibleWOW back in 2007, and contributed their vision and support over an amazing 13-year run,” says Kate Harper.
Soil2Service launched in 2017, and in 2019 rolled out its signature effort, the Detroit Institute of Gastronomy (DIG), a two-year post-secondary education platform focused on combining paid culinary apprenticeship and education into a single program.
In addition to DIG, Soil2Service is building out a culinary studio space for education and events in the People's Restaurant Supply Company at 2211 Gratiot. Ther goal is to hold niche, high-demand classes on topics like allergen cooking and reducing food waste. They also plan to launch a program called “Food Access for All,” that will focus on bringing food entrepreneurs from outlying areas of the city into the Eastern Market.
“Our plan is to teach about healthy food choices and the double up food bucks program, and get our name out there to help small producers and enhance their product offerings,” says Abbey.
Between them, Abbey and Pizza have decades of experience in the food and hospitality industry. The pair decided to take on publishing EdibleWOW as a natural extension of their project.
“We see it as a wonderful opportunity to take the for-profit magazine and bring it into a nonprofit world,” says Piazza. “We can now utilize the platform to continue to bring people together and meet our mission through classes, experiences, events, and now through a publication. It just seemed like a natural fit.”
Abbey and Piazza plan to keep the Harpers involved in the production of EdibleWOW for the first year. They also hope to expand its digital presence and expand its circulation footprint from 10,000 to 50,000 and hope to continue working with the network of freelance writers and photographers who have contributed to the magazine for more than a decade. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on the spring issue, but the pair are hoping to collaborate with other Edible publications in Michigan to put out a summer issue later this year.
“I am extremely excited for the opportunity to hand our labor of love over to John and Jeremy,” says Robb Harper. “Kate and I have worked with them for over 10 years and feel as though they are EdibleWOW family members. They are eager to share the stories of farmers, producers, chefs, and activists working to bring our community together to celebrate and engage in one of the richest food cultures in the nation.” EdibleWOW (the WOW stands for Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb) is part of the Edible Communities network of 90 publications founded in Ojai, California, in 2002. In addition to EdibleWOW, Michigan is home to Edible Michiana and Edible Grande Traverse.