The deep chill in the Upper Peninsula has finally lifted, giving way to a long awaited summer. As vegetables start to grow, so does the anticipation for local farmers markets. This year, three farmers markets in Houghton county have come together to create the non-profit organization From the Ground Farmers Market Collective. From the Ground Farmers Market Collective is dedicated to increasing the long-term growth of farmers markets so that they can better serve farmers and communities.
Over the last few years, the Houghton, Hancock, and Calumet farmers markets have experienced steady growth- both in the number of farmers and customers attending markets. The pandemic brought a renewed interested in farmers markets, with many feeling the impact of national food shortages, unemployment, and limited opportunities for safe social interactions. The weekly farmers markets stepped up, providing food assistance programs and a sense of community. While the Main Street Calumet Market has been a long time supporter of food assistance programs, the past two years really highlighted just how beneficial these programs are to the community. Since 2018, Main Street Calumet has seen an increase by 8x in benefits used, equating to over $10,000 in food assistance benefits spent directly at the market last season. The new farmers market collective’s goal is to keep this momentum going so that all of the farmers markets in the area have the opportunity to participate in food assistance programs and continue to grow.
The farmers markets in Houghton, Hancock, and Calumet have been able to thrive thanks to the kindness and dedication of volunteers. However, the market managers recognized that this level of growth long term could not be sustained through volunteer efforts alone. This past winter, From the Ground Farmers Market Collective was formed by Portage Health Foundation, the city of Houghton, the city of Hancock, the Village of Calumet DDA, WUPPDR and Main Street Calumet. Main Street Calumet Director and former market manager Leah Polzien highlights the impact that the new collective will have:
“Healthy food is an important factor in the lives of our community members. We hope providing multiple avenues of access to fresh produce will increase health outcomes for our customers but also connect them to our communities. From an economic development prospective we want to create a community people are drawn to, and food is something we see really brings people together.”
From the Ground has since created a salaried position for a new farmers market manager, Jes McQuinn, to coordinate food assistance programs and vendor relations across the three locations. Jes McQuinn is a Michigan Tech graduate looking to expand her horizons in the Keweenaw all while being dedicated to the growth of her community. By funding what we value in our community, we can expect to see consistency and expansion in the programs that are offered at farmers markets.
You can catch over 50 vendors at the Houghton, Hancock, and Calumet locations!
Downtown Houghton Farmer’s Market
Where: 58 Huron Street, Houghton, MI 49931
Tuesdays from 4-7pm
Main Street Calumet Farmers Market
Where: 340 6th Street, Calumet, MI 49913
Saturdays from 10am-2pm
Hancock Tori and Farmers Market
Where: Quincy Green, 403 Quincy Street, Hancock, Michigan 49930
Thursdays from 3-6pm
Follow along with them on Instagram at @fromthegroundfmc
Their website is launching soon at https://www.fromthegroundfmc.org/
Madelina DiLisi is the Western UP Local Food Coordinator for Taste the Local Difference. Reach her at [email protected]
Portage Health Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization serving Michigan’s Copper Country, which includes Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties. Their mission is to positively influence a healthier community through enhanced philanthropy and collaboration. Learn more about their impact at https://www.phfgive.org/