Grand Traverse Pie Company Gives Back - The Leelanau Conservancy

Grand Traverse Pie Company Gives Back

Grand Traverse Pie Company Gives Back


Published May, 2012Our annual auction and picnic would not be possible without the numerous volunteers that help us.  They assist with set-up, donate items, work the event itself and so much more.  One of the most distinctive volunteers is Denise Busley, co-founder of the Grand Traverse Pie Company, who works hard to give back to her community.  Baking and donating 75 pies to the Leelanau Conservancy’s picnic, she not only is extending herself to the Conservancy, but also involves youth to help her in the process of baking the pies. Denise coordinates with both Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative (MYOI) and the Elements program through Child and Family Services.

Both Elements and MYOI have similar focuses in that they engage kids who are aging out of the foster care system and help prepare them for a successful future.  Grand Traverse Pie Co. has been associated with MYOI since Denise and her husband, Mike first came to Traverse City in 2002, teaching kids how to make pies and allowing them to explore a possible route for their future.  Grand Traverse Pie Co. donates to events, such as the Leelanau Conservancy Annual Picnic, throughout the year which allows the youth to assist in pie-making.  Never knowing exactly how many will show up, Denise prepares herself for anywhere from 5 to 20 helpers.

Last summer around 15 youth showed up to make pies for the picnic. For most of them it was their first time working at Grand Traverse Pie Co. and they didn’t know quite what to expect, but as the “pie assembly line” began the energy shifted to one of excitement as they interacted with one another and saw the outcome of their efforts; beautiful, delicious, pies.  Denise believes strongly in the good it does for the foster care kids. “When we understand all the needs of this community, the plight of these kids makes us stronger as a community,” says Denise. “It is important for us to show that we care and give them a sense of what could be in their future, that there is hope for them to succeed. Showing support is extremely important when it comes to these kids. Just because they’ve been victimized doesn’t mean that that will define their future.”

Denise’s passion for giving back to her surrounding community is apparent in the way she runs her business.  We love that baking pies not only provides the Conservancy with a delectable local dessert for our annual picnic, but that Denise has also found a way to go beyond and include youth from Elements and Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative.

The pie caps off a local foods meal that begins with appetizers prepared, and in some cases, also donated by local chefs. “We’re grateful to the many people, such as Denise, who generously donate to make this event such a success,” says Carolyn Faught, Communications Director for the Leelanau Conservancy. Learn more about the Conservancy’s Annual Picnic and Auction here.

—Story and photo by Juliana Lisuk, who was Leelanau Conservancy’s 2011 Summer Outreach Intern.