News & Events

February 9, 2021

Podcast: Leah Polzien recaps Calumet Farmers Market's Incredible 2020

The Main Street Calumet Farmers Market had a banner year in 2020. Despite the challenges brought on by a global pandemic, they saw more vendors, more sales, more customers and even extended the market well into the fall for the first time in the market’s history.

Leah Polzien at Calumet Farmers MarketFor Portage Health Foundation (PHF), all of that was great to hear. But what put this good news over the top for us was the market successfully expanded food access for those most in need. That was highlighted by a 257 percent increase in transactions using SNAP benefits and a 699 percent increase in SNAP benefits dollars spent.

In this podcast host Michael H. Babcock and Meghan Jaszczak, RD, from PHF talked with Leah Polzien from Main Street Calumet about what happened in 2020, how PHF helped make that a reality, how that investment fits into PHF’s strategic plan and what the market is looking to make happen in 2021.

If you’re inspired by what you hear in this podcast, we invite you to check out our Farmers Market Capacity Building and Food Access Grant RFP. The deadline for this RFP is March 22 and $35,000 in funding is available. This funding could be used to improve existing markets or starting a new one. More information on that is available at phfgive.org/grants.

Calumet Farmers Market SignQuotable Moments

  • “It’s taken a while for the market to build, but this last year was incredible. It just blossomed.” - Leah Polzien, Main Street Calumet
  • “This year there was so much momentum there between the vendors and the customers.” - Leah Polzien, Main Street Calumet
  • “We need to provide more food (in 2021, which means we need to boost those individual farmers we have or find more farmers." - Leah Polzien, Main Street Calumet
  • “The vendors we have are the nicest people. Everyone gets along really well, helps each other.” - Leah Polzien, Main Street Calumet
  • “We want to be a change agent.” - Meghan Jaszczak, RD, Portage Health Foundation
  • “Especially seeing the sales increase for the snap benefits was just astounding to me." - Meghan Jaszczak, RD, Portage Health Foundation
  • “If we increase our access that’s excellent, and that should be our first point of emphasis. But, if we lose that opportunity to educate people on what to do once that access is increased, we’re missing that market. We’re not reaching that full potential. That’s what was so great about your market, we hit essentially five of six of our areas of emphasis.” - Meghan Jaszczak, RD, Portage Health Foundation
  • “We’re really trying to create a more robust farmers market system within our area. We’re interested in any ways people can bolster that up.” - Meghan Jaszczak, RD, Portage Health Foundation

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