Olympia Farmers Market Nominated for an Economic Courage Award
Economic courage could be defined as a leader, a business, nonprofit and or organization that, while facing economic uncertainty and a radical retraction of “business as usual,” took extraordinary steps to provide a service, a product, and or a support service that made a positive impact to the community and or employees of their organization. These individuals took economic risks to continue providing a service, product and or resource in the face of unprecedented economic uncertainty. Showing the ability to adapt, change and thrive during uncertainty. The Thurston EDC awarded Economic Courage Awards at the Hootenanny on July 19. Learn more here: https://thurstonedc.com/hootenanny/.
During the past year, the Olympia Farmers Market has shown Economic Courage and has been nominated for an Economic Courage Award.
We asked the Olympia Farmers Market team to answer some questions about the past year and how the business took extraordinary steps to impact our community positively. Their answers are below.
What year was your business/organization established?
“In 1974, there was a grassroots revival” of the farmers’ market, Wilcox says. A local produce seller, Mary Towne, used $500 from her sales as seed money for a new farmers’ market. Old-timers remembered the old market, and they led the renewal. At first, it was located at Sleater-Kinney and Pacific. But, according to Wilcox, a strong feeling existed among some board members that “they wanted to go back to the waterfront in Olympia. They were reclaiming their old territory, and they did it with an attitude.” – Steve Wilcox (Thurston Talk, 2017)
The Olympia Farmers Market found its current home in 1996 when the City of Olympia and The Port Olympia came together to secure the site and parking. Still, the market has had a lively history of locations downtown in the past 100 years, including the old Legion Way site in 1976-77 (until a city official forced a move, citing concerns the market would ruin the grass), across from the old Olympia City Hall on Plum Street until 1984, and then at the old Yardbirds location near Gardner’s Restaurant.
How many employees do you have?
Currently, there are four team members, but the Market is hiring! Check out our job posting for a General Manager!
Is your reach local, regional or national?
All vendors must produce their products within the geographical boundaries of Thurston, Lewis, Mason or Grays Harbor Counties.
What does your business do? What services do you provide?
The Olympia Farmers Market nourishes our community, supports small-scale local agriculture, and cultivates a healthy economy by providing a vibrant gathering place where growers, makers, and producers are empowered to offer direct access to quality goods and fresh food.
The Market creates opportunity and viable livelihoods; it is a welcoming place to learn and connect; it is a community that ensures its resilience and supports a flourishing local food system that sustains our region for generations to come.
What specific niche does your business fill in this community?
To nourish our community, support small-scale local agriculture, and cultivate a healthy economy by providing a vibrant gathering place where growers, makers, and producers are empowered to offer direct access to quality goods and fresh food.
What are some key elements you attribute to your business’s success?
- Sustainability: From our earliest days selling produce out of our pick-up trucks, we’ve been focused on sustainability as a guiding principle. It’s at our core as farmers who depend on clean air, fresh water, and healthy soil beneath our feet, as artists who imagine what could be; and as artisanal producers who’ve spent years mastering our craft. We believe in working with passion and dedication toward a healthier planet and a better future for everyone.
- Community: “Meet me at the market” is more than just a phrase we use around here. It’s the smiles that bloom in unexpected meetings between friends. It’s the relaxing feeling of stepping into a place where all are welcome. It’s the joy of being part of something bigger than us. We’re grateful for how our community supports us, and we’re glad to be in a place that enriches the culture of our region and brings people together.
- Integrity: Just like no one achieves sustainability without community, no one builds community without trust. We care about what we do. We take pride in it. That’s why we hold ourselves and each other accountable. We learn from our mistakes, grow, improve, and continually strive for excellence. We believe trust is the foundation of our success, and we’re committed to acting with integrity and earning that trust every chance we get.