Excellence on Main Award

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Waterfront Farmers Market

Awardee: City of Gig Harbor, Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance, and numerous volunteers!

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2020

City: Gig Harbor

In 2015 a partnership was struck between the City of Gig Harbor and the Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance to create a Waterfront Farmers Market. It had a meaningful but modest goal to connect people to fresh produce, but within the last five years has developed into a hub for everyone from farmers and entrepreneurs to nonprofits and musicians. One of the market’s greatest accomplishments is also its greatest asset – 250 volunteers who make the market a reality on Thursdays throughout the summer.

For five seasons running, the Waterfront Farmers Market has had a dedicated Market Manager, Heidi Gerling, responsible for the development of that strong volunteer network which has proven key to its success. Held in Skansie Brothers Park right along the water, the park provides a beautiful space for market-goers – but not an easy spot for farmers and vendors to unload. Cue the volunteers!

Vendors are greeted curbside every week by a group of volunteers, ready to help unload the vendor’s goods and displays and ensure each vendor has all the set-up assistance they require. When unloading is complete, the vendor drives their car to an off-site parking location where a volunteer-run shuttle service meets them to return them to the market site. The reverse service is provided at the end of the market. The partnership is a win-win – vendors love having the help, and the volunteer group of the week gets a booth to showcase their community involvement. In 2019, this included the Rotary Club of Gig Harbor, Harbor History Museum, Millville Pizza, Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Club, Gig Harbor Mid-Day Rotary, and the Gig Harbor Dragon Boat Team — to name a few.

Thanks to the positive partnerships between the Alliance, the City, Pierce Transit’s Summer Trolley, farmers, vendors, and volunteers, the Waterfront Farmers Market has grown into a vibrant weekly event with live entertainment, children’s activities, cooking demos, local history and more.

These partnerships have proven indispensable as the Alliance staff, volunteers, and vendors have made necessary accommodations to open the market amidst public health concerns this summer. The market continues to prove its value as an essential economic driver and community space in Gig Harbor.