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A local fundraiser established in 2017, Fort Wayne SOUP, hosted a virtual event on Thursday, August 24. This was the third of four SOUP events in 2021.

The four chosen presenters for the August 24th event were Heather Kempel of Lending Library, Rick Ritter for Dick’s Organics, Bonnie Dootlitte of New Mercies Ministries, and Ashley Crager, Do Work Not Pills.

Rick Ritter, a master gardener, and former trauma therapist received the most votes supporting his seven-acre farm near the airport. “My long-term goal was to start a small farm like this to grow food for the needy and homeless people in the community,” says Ritter in his short pitch YouTube video.

Dick’s Organics farm consists of rescue animals, honeybees, an orchard of over 500 trees, and produces over 4,000 pounds of vegetables. “99% of organic food grown on my property goes to St. Mary’s soup kitchen.” His organic foods can “also go to people with illnesses such as cancer who want healthy food.”

Before the fundraiser, much of the costs for the farm came out of pocket and from small donations. Over a telephone conversation, Rick Ritter tells me how he will use the $550 funds allotted from the fundraiser for the fall. Some fruit bushes and trees are planted this season, and more potting soil and seeding is needed. Ongoing expenses for Dick’s Organics include hay and food for the rescue animals, as well as chicken feed.

The next Fort Wayne SOUP event will be hosted on Thursday, October 21st. Tickets may be purchased ahead of time online. SOUP’s Executive Director Amber Bouthot explains in an email how the final 2021 event is undecided as to whether it will be in-person or virtual. “At this time, we do not know if it is virtual or in person. We will watch the COVID numbers and make a determination closer to the date. Moving forward, in person events will be at Wunderkammer,” explains Bouthot.

Fort Wayne Soup is a micro-grant community event that uses crowd funding to help launch creative projects aimed to enhance Fort Wayne. At each SOUP event attendees hear 4 presentations on projects ranging from art, urban agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneurs, education, technology and more. To date, Fort Wayne SOUP has donated over $24,000 to a variety of projects that have positively impacted our community. All ages are welcome to attend the event and submit proposals to be a presenter.

For more information about Fort Wayne SOUP, visit their website at fortwaynesoup.org

The Waynedale News Staff

Olivia Fletter

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