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Empty Bowl Benefit Raises Flood Relief Funds for Small Vermont Farms

At left, Maya Faulstich-Hon makes a bowl at The Mud Studio in Waterbury for the 2023 Empty Bowl Benefit on Nov. 12 at the Zenbarn in Waterbury Center. The event included newly made bowls from The Mud Studio and Blockhouse Studio in Waitsfield filled with soup from donating restaurants, caterers, and chefs. Funds raised went to NOFA VT’s Farmer Emergency Relief Fund and the Vermont Main Street Flood Recovery Fund. Photo by John Lazenby.
By Linda Prescott

Over 400 people turned out for the Empty Bowl Flood Relief Benefit at the Zenbarn in Waterbury Center on Nov. 12, raising nearly $25,000 for small Vermont farms ravaged by this summer’s historic floods. Spearheaded by two local pottery studios — the Mud Studio in Waterbury and the Blockhouse Studio in Waitsfield — the event was held to raise flood recovery funds for NOFA (Northern Organic Farming Association). 

“We are grateful for the huge crowd that came through the doors to help local farms struggling post-flood to recover from lost crops, equipment, and wages. This is especially important because most of them did not qualify for money from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency),” said Mike Sullivan, owner of the Mud Studio. 

For the price of admission, guests selected a bowl crafted by a local potter, in which a choice of soups was served, in addition to a variety of accompaniments and desserts. All food was donated by area restaurants, businesses, and volunteers. In addition, the Empty Bowl benefit featured live music and a silent auction offering a wide variety of local crafts, from pottery and jewelry to furniture. 

“We had no costs because everything was donated, including the use of the Zenbarn space. So every dollar raised has gone directly to our region’s small farms,” said Sullivan. He described the evening as “festive and upbeat in the spirit of the community coming together to help out our struggling local food producers.”