Local Business Tarpestry spearheads river clean-up | New

SUGAR GROVE – Knee-deep in the Watauga River, volunteers scooped up metal, plastic and more in a July 31 river cleanup hosted by Ted Swartzbaugh, local business owner of Tarpestry, a company outdoor items.

Continuum Consulting Services LLC’s very first micro-grant recipient, Swartzbaugh, said the clean-up day was a “pilot” for what he hopes will be a larger community event in the future.

Swartzbuagh said the idea came to him as an event the community could rally around. This year, the volunteers came to the river in groups and enjoyed the food, drinks and music by the water.

Tarpestry was joined by local businesses to donate to the event: Booneshine Brewing provided beer, Kindly Kitchen donated produce, and the Blue Ridge Conservancy also joined.

Businesses from outside the region also helped fund the event. CEO Wendy White and President Lisa Main, co-founders of Continuum Consulting LLC, attended the event to support White’s “Let’s Choose Love” effort, which donates micro-grants to “any project that makes good in the world, ”according to Continuum Consulting LLC. website. The grant is accompanied by consultation with Continuum staff to help guide the project.

Colorado-based White said she and Main had other business in the area, but were excited to see the first micro-grant in action.

Going forward, Swartzbaugh said his dream is to host the event at Valle Crucis Community Park.

“There would be ten teams of three to five people that would cover different sections of the river and compete to pick up the most trash,” Swartzbaugh said.

His plan would be to bring groups together at Valle Crucis Community Park, where there would be groups and food trucks for a community celebration. The Watauga Riverkeeper, which also hosts river clean-up events, said he would be delighted to join Swartzbaugh next year and help expand the event, Swartzbaugh said.

“We’ve learned a lot about logistics this year,” Swarzbaugh said. Imagining this cleanup as a dry run, Swarzbaugh said he learned how to make the drop-off and pick-up of groups at the river easier and the importance of having a boat or ship. to carry garbage bags as they get heavier as volunteers work. their way along the river.

At the end of the day, Tarpestry raffled off an assortment of their volunteer goods, including gaiters, socks and a tarp, as well as a Tsuga-branded utility bag – which does the cutting and sewing for the Tarpestry brand.

In the end, the group of volunteers pulled out many bags of garbage from the river, finding items such as tires, leftover car parts, metal, ceramics and even a doll. In the years to come, Swarzbaugh has said he would like to weigh trash and have groups vying for the most trash collected by weight.

“We’re just hoping to involve more people and make it bigger next year,” Swarzbaugh said. In the future, he hopes to reach out to other businesses and organizations sooner to partner with the event and increase publicity to spread the word to more community members.

Marisa Mecke is a Report for America Corps member for Mountain Times Publications. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.

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