Beloit College Magazine

Beloit College Magazine

Spring 2012 (March 20, 2012 at 12:00 am)

Internship Leads to Successful Product Line


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March 20, 2012 at 12:00 am

Regina Willensky JamsWhen the opportunity to work as a Beloit College Sustainability Fellow at her favorite local store presented itself, Regina Willensky’12 leapt at the chance. The New York City native is interested in food politics and economic development, and Bushel & Peck’s Local Market in downtown Beloit is in the business of promoting local and sustainable food.

In 2010, Bushel & Peck’s owners received funds from Thrive—an eight-county economic development organization in Wisconsin—for an incubator kitchen to experiment with new products and ideas.

Co-owner Jackie Gennett set aside some grant dollars to fund an internship, a role that Willensky filled. Togeth­er, they embarked on a mission to identify surplus local produce and find ways to extend its shelf life, leading to a pickling and canning initiative that became more successful than they anticipated. Willensky, an economics and environmental studies double major, says the initial plan was to expand sales of locally grown foods past the season, while also increasing Bushel & Peck’s revenue. “Going in, the plan was just to see if this was something feasible, financially.”

More than a year later, Gennett characterized the resulting line of products—frozen soups, canned jams, and pickled produce—as “wildly successful.” Willensky, she says, provided business planning, research, and market development. “What the internship did was provide the framework for a continuing product line,” says Gennett.

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