'Veg Out' and fight hunger at Bounty & Soul benefit

Fundraiser sets $10,000 goal, much of it matched

Margaret Hurt
Special to BMN

A year ago, Amy Halloran was hired to manage Barefoot Farm, a small off-grid organic farm in Western North Carolina that grows vegetables for low-income families. Halloran's primary task was - and is - to grow produce for the Black Mountain-area nonprofit Bounty & Soul.

Bounty & Soul founder Ali Casparian leads a cooking class for the organization's clients last Thanksgiving.

With her commercial growing background, she was soon harvesting produce - kale, lettuces, radishes, tomatoes and more - to deliver to Bounty & Soul. The partnership is one of many of Bounty & Soul's community partnerships that help it fulfill its mission to provide fresh, healthy food, nutrition literacy and health and wellness resources for those in need.

To help it accomplish its mission, Bounty & Soul is holding Veg Out, a fundraiser June 18 at Pisgah Brewing Co. The free portion happens 3-7 p.m. with food trucks, yoga and entertainment by Motown Willy, Chalwa and Andrew Scotchie & The River Rats. The paid portion ($15) starting at 9 p.m. is a benefit concert featuring Malcolm Holcomb, Jimmy Landry and Beth McKee.

"Bounty & Soul is hands-down one of the best nonprofit groups I have worked with," said Halloran. The organization connects with the people it helps in a warm, authentic way, she said.

The partnership between Bounty & Soul and Barefoot Farm benefits both entities. The farm seeks to educate others about growing produce, and Halloran has been given opportunities by Bounty & Soul to lead cooking demonstrations and classes for its  many clients. This summer, she will teach the UGrow program, which teaches clients how to start their own gardens.

"I love getting to be part of (Bounty & Soul's)  work," Halloran said. "It gives me a reason to get up each morning and work in the fields on a hot day."

Partnerships like these began with Ali Casparian's passion to address hunger insecurity. Casparian, Bounty & Soul's founder and executive director, attracted community members and organizations willing to share produce and money and teach skills that fight hunger.

"The only way we could have taken off like this was to reach out to others for their assistance," said Lindsey Miller, Bounty & Soul operations manager.

The organization has established more than 70 community partnerships in three years, Miller said. The partnerships  allow it to offer food, nutrition and cooking education, yoga and health classes and more to qualifying clients. Partners deliver produce regularly from their personal and commercial farms, lead cooking demonstrations and classes for clients at the produce markets, serve on the board of directors and transport boxes of food around the county. Volunteers provide yoga classes. "It's huge that so many people are part of this movement," Miller said. Bounty & Soul is "just the face" of so much philanthropy, Miller said.

"What can you offer us and what can we offer you" is the perspective Bounty & Soul takes on its many partnerships, she said. It offers partners the chance to help more than 600 Bounty & Soul clients, she said.

During the celebration of its community partners June 18, Bounty & Soul gets "to shed light on all the work that's being done in the community and all the hands involved,"  Miller said. Bounty & Soul hopes Veg Out will raise $10,000 in donations between June 13-24 (online donating is available at Bounty & Soul). Some donors have  pledged to match funds on a one-on-one basis if the goal is reached.

Many of Bounty & Soul's  community partners will be present at the free and paid events, including the Dr. John Wilson Community Garden, Barefoot Farm, New Sprout Farm, The Yoga Service Movement,  Rise Up Rooted and Swannanoa Community Garden.