Walking through the market the first week of July, it seems only natural for a certain item to fill the hands of passers-by. Where dry throats roamed before, smiling and refreshed mouths are instead. Delicious, icy popsicles are the perfect counterpoint to a hot summer’s day strolling through the market, admiring the goodies on the stands, or wherever you are, for that matter.
Danielle Welke, founder and vivacious artisan crafter of MI Ice Pops, saw this missing ingredient in Michigan, and filled it quite yummily! With dream-worthy flavors for every palette, it is a business plan that simply couldn’t be wrong. Not only are they scrumptious, the popsicles are made from as many local ingredients as possible. Since these treats are sourced almost entirely from Michigan’s own produce, the emphasis is on seasonal, much like our state itself!
From living in Michigan throughout her life, to her farming days near Eaton Rapids, which she recalls dearly, the passion and practice has always been within Danielle. The attitude of making the most of resources in her surroundings and trading between other farmers, has naturally progressed in MI Ice Pops to small businesses helping other small businesses, especially local farmers and growers.
Choosing quality over quantity, Danielle ensures each batch and each popsicle is as fresh and tasty as possible. Not only does she maintain wholesome, simple ingredients–just local fruits, vegetables, herbs, and sweetener (honey, maple syrup, chocolate), the produce is largely hand-picked by Danielle herself, or someone she knows.
Caring about not only the quality of the pops, Danielle also seeks to showcase Michigan’s amazing bounty of fruits and veggies, and to educate by doing so. “Most people don’t realize how agriculturally diverse Michigan is, even if they have always lived here.” Cherries aren’t just Up North. Blueberries can be found across the state, not only on the westside. As Danielle mentions, Michigan is second only to California in agricultural diversity! And she knows just what to do to celebrate this gift.
So what’s on the ever-changing, seasonal menu? One can always find “Thai Iced Tea”, the original flavor that got her started. There are several flavors based on the harvest at the time. Some of the flavors on the board this month include, “Chocolate-Cherry”, “Strawberry Lemonade”, and “Cherries & Cream”. Danielle also rotates a more adventurous flavor. For example, as tomatoes come through during August and September, she will develop a gazpacho-pop, which I personally cannot wait to try.
Fellow Detroiters in particular will get a kick out of the “Rock-and-Rye + Michigan Cherries” popsicle!
MI Ice Pops can be found popping up at stores and markets all over Michigan, as well as on Facebook. When you visit her stand at the Westside Farmers’ Market, it is easily noticed how much Danielle really enjoys, as well as cares about, what she is doing! As she puts it, when making popsicles, there’s “never a stressful day”.
Submitted by R. Smith