Grants totaling $125,000 Awarded

Projects include Diversification of the Regional Food System and Dam Removal

Bounty & Soul, photo by Michael Oppenheim

(February 2023) CFWNC approved two Food & Farming grants totaling $75,000 to Bounty & Soul and the Utopian Seed Project and two Natural & Cultural Resources grants totaling $50,000 to Mainspring Conservation Trust and the Toe River Arts Council.

“CFWNC fundholders provided 92% of the money for these focus area awards, enabling us to make more grants from our discretionary funds,” said CFWNC President Elizabeth Brazas. “This level of collaborative grantmaking underscores the value of a community foundation to the region, nonprofits and people it serves. We are here at the intersection of needs and resources. Bringing our constituents together to address issues affecting us all is what CFWNC is designed to do. Whether it is our grantmaking with fundholder support or partnering with other funders, CFWNC prioritizes unity, connection and community.”

Bounty & Soul (BAS) received $35,000 to support Produce to the People™ and its Farmers Alliance, programs that address food, farms and health through a lens of equity and inclusion. Produce to the People™ distributes fresh, nourishing foods to people experiencing food insecurity. Its Farmers Alliance program includes 46 local farmers, growers and businesses that donate or sell BAS products for distribution. BAS works to have reciprocal relationships with the alliance partners and has prioritized sourcing culturally relevant foods from black, indigenous, and other farmers of color in WNC. BAS serves Buncombe, McDowell, Rutherford, Transylvania and Henderson counties.

The Dogwood Charitable Endowment Fund, Bahnson-Armitage Fund, Biltmore Estate Charitable Fund, Ero Fund, Oliver Family Fund and Dr. Robert J. and Kimberly S. Reynolds Fund provided co-investment for this grant.

The Utopian Seed Project (USP) received $40,000 for its work supporting and developing a resilient regional food and farming system through research, education and promotion of biodiversity. USP combines hands-in-the-earth farming with education and outreach. To work toward the goal of developing crop options for a changing climate, USP conducts variety trials to assess regional suitability, species exploration to increase regional biodiversity in farm systems, and active seed selection and breeding projects. The work focuses on both growing and eating and engages farmers on the supply side and consumers on the supply side to shift toward a more diverse food system.

The Minigowin Fund, Dogwood Charitable Endowment Fund, WNC Resolve Fund, Ero Fund and Oliver Family Fund provided co-investment for this grant.

Mainspring Conservation Trust received $40,000 to complete required due diligence efforts to acquire and remove the Ela Dam, an obsolete dam and reservoir in Swain County adjoining the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians' (EBCI) Qualla Boundary. A coalition of federal, state, tribal, nonprofit and private partners, spearheaded by EBCI Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources Joey Owle, came together after an accidental sediment release in October 2021 that affected the downstream reach of the Oconaluftee River. Nearly 100 years ago, the dam was constructed to support rural electrification; but now, the social, economic and environmental values of re-establishing a free-flowing Oconaluftee River vastly outweigh the one megawatt of power the dam generates. Removal will open 549 river miles of the Oconaluftee River and its tributaries. Streams across the entire Qualla Boundary and parts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be connected once again to the lower Oconaluftee and Tuckasegee Rivers, and culturally important fish species will have access to spawning areas in upstream Tribal waters for the first time in nearly a century.

The Minigowin Fund, The Ecology Wildlife Foundation Fund, Mandler/Tambor Family Fund, Stewart Fund for Life & Love, Riverbend Fund, Walnut Fund and Ero Fund provided co-investment for this grant.

Toe River Arts Council received $10,000 to market and promote its Cynthia and Edwina Bringle documentary. It captures the Bringle sisters’ personal history, artistic contributions to the field of craft, significance as educators and mentors, and the role they have played in the life of Penland School of Craft and the Toe River region. Cynthia and Edwina Bringle, twin sisters, have led storied lives as craftspeople, producing remarkable works of art, mentoring a vast community of makers, and sharing what they know with students, visitors, and collectors. The documentary will be made available to film festivals, arts organizations, schools and libraries and will be archived with the Western Regional Archives of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and the American Craft Council.

The Minigowin Fund, Dogwood Charitable Endowment Fund and Ero Fund provided co-investment for this grant.