Looking Back at the Garden Tour’s Roots
From its humble beginnings in 1998, the Gig Harbor Garden Tour’s sole raison d’être has been
literacy. Back then, it was a small community effort to raise funds in support of the Adult Basic Skills program at Tacoma Community College Gig Harbor, which provides tutoring and GED testing and helps students 16 years of age and older improve job skills and prepare for college and/or the GED.
The tour was organized and administered by TCC staff, with assistance from the City of Gig Harbor; tour revenue paid for supplies and a part-time program administrator. Critical to the effort, however, was a dedicated band of volunteers who saw to the myriad details during the planning stages and worked in various capacities during the weekend of the event. From choosing the gardens and working with the homeowners before, during, and after the event to providing logistical support ensuring that hundreds of tour-goers find their way around town, their invaluable assistance in those early years cannot be overstated.
The Gig Harbor Garden Tour celebrates its 16th year in 2013. The annual tour of a handful of private gardens over a two-day period has grown to include a pre-tour dinner and auction, seminars with gardening experts, art poster and calendar sales, and the ever-popular, hand-painted Adirondack chair raffle. With more than 1,300 garden enthusiasts from the greater Puget Sound region expected to attend the tour this year, the entire community of Gig Harbor seems to be involved in one capacity or another.
TCC Gig Harbor is still the tour’s main beneficiary; however, with a broader mission “to promote
literacy by supporting educational programs for children and adults,”. The list of those who receive
donations has grown.
In 2012, the tour’s Board of Directors was able to increase donations substantially to local ‘Reach
Out and Read’ programs, which provide age-appropriate books to children at well-child checks at
Pediatric Associates in Gig Harbor. This helps encourage early exposure to books and reading.
The Board also included for the first time, ‘Communities in Schools’, a mentorship program in the
community. A five year national evaluation showed this organization is making a quantifiable
difference by surrounding students with a community of support through math and reading tutors.
This empowers them to stay in school and achieve in life.
Thank you for support of the Gig Harbor Garden Tour. Whether it’s your first time or your 16th, we
know you’ll be wowed by the lovely gardens and their fabulous settings, and you just may take home some new ideas to improve your own outdoor space.
Best of all, you’ll know that you’ve contributed to the most important cause there is—helping children and adults reach their full, literacy-rich potential. There are very few acts of giving that can compare to the everlasting gift of literacy.
“I’ve come to realize that books are as important a part of my ‘doctor bag’ as my stethoscope.”
—Mary Ann Woodruff, MD - Director ‘Reach out and Read’ program
The Gig Harbor Garden Tour Association gives Janine Mott, Executive Director of Tacoma Community College-Gig Harbor Campus, a check for 'in-kind' and cash donations of $20,000.00!! This represents the profits from the Annual Garden Tour and DIG the GIG! Plant a Seed to Read, GHGT Dinner and Auction. All were donated to the Adult Basic Skill classes in Gig Harbor and on the Key Peninsula. The GHGTA also gave to the Milgard Family Hope Center-Boys & Girls Club, and the Reach our and Read program at Pediatrics NW, here in the Harbor.