In early 2020, Bounty & Soul’s food systems administrator, Lyric Antio, was harvesting blueberries to add to the food baskets distributed by the Black Mountain-based nonprofit when an outfit worn by volunteer Gabriele Marewski caught her eye.
“She was wearing a skirt that had all these beautiful photos on the panels,” Antio recalls. “She told me they were photos she had taken of trails she had hiked and transferred them onto this skirt. She was hoping to create a whole collection to sell.”
That introductory conversation planted the seed for a labor of love to raise funds for Bounty & Soul: a special Story Skyrt made by Marewski featuring photographs of produce and products from Western North Carolina growers and makers.
For many years, Marewski, made simple cotton skirts from one pattern and wore them while working her farm in Florida, hiking trails, walking the Camino de Santiago across Spain and on other long-distance treks and cycle trips in the U.S. and internationally. In 2015, she figured out how to transfer her photos from those trips to panels of activewear material and sew those into what she dubbed Story Skyrts.
In 2017, Marewski sold her farm and moved to Asheville to be near her son, who was attending Warren Wilson College. Now an agriculturalist coach for Mountain BizWorks, she officially launched Story Skyrts as an online business last year. She says her volunteer role as Bounty & Soul’s weekly gleaner at the River Arts District Farmers Market inspired her to create the nonprofit’s special Story Skyrt using photos of RAD vendors’ products.
“Since I see the whole world in terms of skirts, I wanted to turn my love for Bounty & Soul into a way to raise funds for them,” Marewski explains.
The Bounty & Soul skirt features produce from Lee’s One Fortune Farm, Full Sun Farm, Black Trumpet Farm and Gaining Ground Farm, among others. All proceeds from sales of the RAD skirts benefit Bounty & Soul Farmers Alliance Program. “I’m no longer farming,” says Marewski. “But I support farmers and anything that supports them.”
Bounty & Soul is also celebrating two recent substantial grants. A People in Need Grant for $20,000 from The Community Foundation of WNC and a $25,000 Impact Grant from the WNC Bridge Foundation will, says B&S founder and Executive Director Ali Casparian, directly support and strengthen the Famers Alliance Program as well as two other initiatives: Produce to the People and Rooted in Health.
Apple pie and carrot cake are fine uses of local produce, but Chuck Blethen, owner and resident vigneron of Jewel of the Blue Ridge Vineyard in Marshall, urges you to think outside the baker’s box. On Wednesday, Feb. 17, at 7 p.m., Blethen will offer a 90-minute online workshop on the art of country winemaking using blackberries, honey, rhubarb, dandelion, apples, carrots and other nongrape products that are easily found locally. Registration is $20. To learn more, visit avl.mx/8zd.
Since opening in late October, the menu at Meherwan Irani’s Nani’s Rotisserie Chicken has been available for takeout only. But in response to customer requests, Irani has added two daily delivery options: through KickbackAVL 11 a.m.-7:45 p.m. and directly from Nani’s, 4-8 p.m. Looking toward warmer weather, Nani’s is also adding safely distanced patio dining. Nani’s, 1 Page Ave. in the Grove Arcade, avl.mx/prv4
Selina Naturally Celtic Sea Salt and Fermenti recently partnered up to assist Beacon of Hope Food Bank clients in Madison County to explore home food preservation as a tool for fighting food insecurity. Selina Naturally donated 1 pound of sea salt per monthly food box distributed during February (a total of 1,200 pounds) and Fermenti added printed fermentation recipes. To learn more about Beacon of Hope, visit avl.mx/8zc.
Since 2012, The Cantina at Historic Biltmore Village has invited guests to participate in its Skip a Side initiative — when diners forfeit one side item from a meal, Cantina donates the retail cash equivalent to MANNA FoodBank. The effort recently hit a milestone, raising a total of over $140,000, enough to have provided over 500,000 meals to families facing hunger across the 16 Western North Carolina counties MANNA serves. The Skip a Side program was created by Cantina owners Sherrye and Anthony Coggiola and their daughter, Sydney. For more information on MANNA and its programs, visit avl.mx/6gn.
That’s a double high five to Oscar Wong, founder of Asheville’s first craft brewery, Highland Brewing Co., who was named Brewery Owner of the Year in Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine’s 10th annual People’s Choice Awards. While the taproom remains closed, Highland’s brewers are still hard at work. This month, the brewery releases its new 9% ABV High Pines Imperial IPA featuring citrus and blueberry hops flavors with a touch of mountain pine. Highland Brewing Co., 12 Old Charlotte Highway, avl.mx/8ze