Helpline getting cold shoulder in Gig Harbor, too

Leaders at South Kitsap Food Helpline would like to bring a nonprofit plant stand to the Farmer’s Markets in Bremerton and Gig Harbor instead of Port Orchard, this year.

They may not be there either, though.

Last year, South Kitsap Food Helpline took part in the Port Orchard Farmer’s Market, which upset a number of other vendors, who said their small, family-run farms couldn’t compete with a nonprofit organization.

They claimed Helpline undercut their prices on products like tomato plants.

That wasn’t their intention, said Jennifer Hardison, the executive director for South Kitsap Food Helpline.

“We’re not doing this for any other reason than to help people,” she said. “We don’t want to stick it to the farmers.”

Helpline’s leaders wrote on their application that they intended to sell plants, and maybe produce at their booth, she said.

“We were very truthful, from the beginning, about what we were going to do,” Hardison said.
But its mission probably won’t fit the profile at the Gig Harbor farmer’s market, said Dale Schultz, the organization’s manager.

“It’s a good cause,” he said.  “It’s just that it doesn’t come under the way we’ve decided to run our farmer’s market.

“They won’t qualify,” he said, “because they’re not a farm.”

Leaders at the Gig Harbor Farmer’s Market have already denied a vendor application from the YMCA in Puyallup.

Leaders at the Bremerton Farmer’s Market haven’t yet discussed the issue.

“They said that they were going to send an application in, and that’s the only time we would consider discussing it,” said Doug Millard, the president of the board for the farmer’s market.

“Until that happens, we can’t discuss it, really.”

Regardless of whether or not Bremerton or Gig Harbor accept South Kitsap Food Helpline’s vendor application, the organization plans to convert a truck into a “mobile market,” to sell its young plants from that venue.

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