Four years ago Joanne Pickett of Arden Pottery decided to start up an Empty Bowls project in her own community.
Empty Bowls is a fund raising project that has been embraced by potters throughout North America as a way of raising money and awareness about poverty. It was founded not by potters, but by two high school art teachers in Michigan, John Hartom and Lisa Blackburn. Students in Hartom’s class made bowls and then Hartom and Blackburn, who are a married couple, organised a lunch for students and teachers in the school. They filled the bowls with soup, and served them to everyone, then asked them all to think about those in their community whose soup bowls were empty. They then asked for donations and said, “keep the bowls”.
The concept of empty bowls was born. In 2002, Empty Bowls came to Eastern Ontario when Perth area potter, the late Jackie Seaton, started up the Perth Empty Bowls project. The project is now in its 16th year and has raised over $200,000 for local youth and food programs. The dozen potters who are involved have made over 9,000 bowls.
The experience of Empty Bowls for Joanne Pickett in Arden has been similar, although on a smaller scale. In the first year Joanne made most of the bowls herself and involved few people, raising $800 for the North Frontenac Food Bank, based in Sharbot Lake.
In the second year more people were involved and $1,400 was raised and last year $2,200 was raised.
This year local potters from Water's Edge Pottery, Aileen Merriam, Jonas Bonetta and Arden Pottery have donated over 100 bowls. For $20. diners choose from a menu of gourmet soups and chilies served in a one-of-a-kind handcrafted pottery bowl that they get to keep.
This year's offerings include smoked tomato and basil soup with shaved Parmesan cheese, chicken/veg and brown rice , creamy curried squash, and baked potato soup with cheddar and bacon - just to name a few. For the adventuresome among us there will be a wild chili - all ingredients (except for the salt) harvested in Kennebec township. Soups and chilies are served with a crispy ciabatta roll and butter.
Freshly brewed coffee and tea, and mulled cider will be available with a selection of delicious homemade cookies and cupcakes.
Also this year there will be a silent auction as part of the Empty Bowls campaign, with artwork donated by local artists.
The event begins at 10 am and goes until 4 pm on the 17th, when Arden will be chock full of Frontenac Heritage Festival events.
See the blue pamphlet in this week’s paper for a complete schedule.