This fall, dozens of homegrown businesses from across Appalachia pitched in for an autumn Appalachian Voices benefit. From a mountain bike to raft trips, from a fine bottle of wine to bed and breakfast getaways, these businesses donated over 75 items to Appalachian Voices’ benefit raffle and silent auction, held during Appalachian Voices’ first annual open house in Boone, North Carolina on November 6. Together, these businesses illustrate the contribution that thriving local enterprises committed to environmental protection can make to the economic vitality of our region.
Headlining the raffle were nine grand prizes, all donated by businesses committed to protecting the environment and healthy communities here in the southern mountains. Topping this list was a Jamis mountain bike contributed by Biowheels, a bicycle outfitter and touring company based in Asheville, North Carolina. Biowheels was founded on the principle of using bicycles to improve personal health and safeguard the environment. As part of that commitment, Biowheels has joined with Appalachian Voices, the Canary Coalition, and the Western North Carolina Alliance to circulate a petition calling for a better transportation system for bicycles and pedestrians in Asheville, North Carolina. To see the petition, go to www.biowheels.com
Patagonia, another company deeply dedicated to environmental protection, was also generous. The Atlanta Patagonia store donated two top-of-the-line Supercell jackets, which are lightweight, waterproof and ideal for most outdoor adventures. In addition to consistently donating items like these to environmental groups across the nation, every year Patagonia gives 1 percent of all sales or 10 percent of pre-tax profits (whichever is greater) to environmental organizations, including Appalachian Voices. To date, Patagonia has donated over $18 million to more than 1,000 groups.
Those Patagonia jackets might come in handy on one of three river trips donated for the raffle. Wildwater Rafting, located in Long Creek, South Carolina, contributed two rafting trips for two people. For over thirty years, Wildwater Rafting has been leading adventures down some of the finest rivers in the southern Appalachians. Currently, they offer trips on the Chattooga, Nantahala, Ocoee and Pigeon Rivers. Options include overnight stays at cabins and lodges, a high ropes course on the Chattooga, a canoe and kayak clinic, and a Nantahala trip that includes a jaunt on the scenic Great Smoky Mountains Railway.
Shenandoah River Outfitters in Luray, Virginia also donated a river trip. They offer a wide variety of trips, ranging from one hour to seven days long, on the Shenandoah River, which runs between the Blue Ridge and Massanutten Mountains in the stunning Shenandoah Valley. Options include guided canoe and kayak trips, tubing, rental cabins, tent camping at their campground, and equipment rental. Their environmental commitment includes an annual event called Operation Clean Water, when over 100 volunteers come together to clean up the banks of the Shenandoah River.
The donation from the Mast Farm Inn offered a luxurious opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Blue Ridge in environmentally-friendly surroundings. They contributed a two-night stay and breakfast at the Inn, located just outside Boone, North Carolina. Known for its exquisite accommodations and gorgeous setting, the Inn is also recognized for its commitment to the environment. They are guided by a “green inns philosophy” that calls for minimizing the Inn’s environmental impact. The gardens on site are organic, and provide many of the ingredients for the gourmet, contemporary Southern cuisine served in the dining room.
A second bed and breakfast getaway was provided by the Orchard Inn, which offered a one-night stay at their mountaintop retreat. The Orchard Inn is located just outside Saluda, North Carolina, a small town with its entire downtown listed on the National Historic Register. The Inn itself is an historic structure, built in 1910 and featuring a wrap-around porch and glassed-in dining porch overlooking the Warrior Mountains. With its mountaintop location (elevation 2500 feet) and its close proximity to hiking, birding, and fishing, the Inn is a favorite retreat for nature lovers.
The final grand prize requires no travel, and will instead be enjoyed right at home, all summer long. Piedmont Organics, located in Linden, Virginia, donated an entire summer of fresh organic produce from their gardens. Piedmont Organics is a certified organic farm that is a community support agriculture operation, commonly known as a CSA. Before the season begins, individuals and families buy “shares” in the season’s harvest. This provides the farm with much-needed funds to start the growing season, and entitles supporters to a share of that summer’s harvest. Every week, Piedmont Organics delivers fresh-picked vegetables, herbs, and occasional flower bouquets from their 220-acre organic farm to over 100 shareholders throughout northern Virginia.
Additional donations included a fine bottle of wine donated by the Asheville Wine Market. Galleries including Village Arts and the Iago Gallery in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, donated original artwork created by artists from our region. Appalachian Voices thanks all the businesses have that supported our efforts to protect the mountains, and we encourage you to visit them. For a complete list and more information, see our website at: www.appvoices.org