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Posted May 23, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Cash for crops: Concert, auction to raise money for Volunteer Farms

Con Burch sits inside the barn
Con Burch, an organizer of the Volunteer Farms benefit concert and auction, sits inside the barn at Crooked Run Cellars in Mt. Jackson. The all-day event to help feed the hungry will be held on June 6 and will feature five different bands, an auction, and food and wine tasting. Burch and her band, Con and Cash, will perform during the event. Rich Cooley/Daily

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By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

MT. JACKSON -- There's an opportunity to indulge in wine and song and help out a good cause at a new winery outside Mt. Jackson on June 6.

A concert and auction benefiting the Volunteer Farms is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Crooked Run Cellars, at 1685 Crooked Run Road.

This is the largest fund-raising concert the trio of Volunteer Farms has ever put on, said Bob Blair, chairman and CEO of the World Foundation for Children, which oversees the farms that provide produce and now meat for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

"We kind of felt like this would take it even further," Blair said of the day-long event. "Hopefully, it will."

There will be five musical acts: bluegrass group Bill Emerson and Sweet Dixie; Robbie Limon; folk duo Con and Cash; The Amanda Wilkins Band; and headliners Robin and Linda Williams, who have performed with the Grand Ole Opry, Austin City Limits and on Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion," according to a news release from the Volunteer Farms.

Concert-goers can sample the wines of Crooked Run Cellars and of another Mt. Jackson winery, Cave Ridge Winery. Shaffer's Barbecue will be sold on site.

There will be numerous items available by auction. The auction has already begun as a silent Internet auction, and items will ultimately be sold at a live auction at around 5 p.m.

Auction items include a minivan, a week in the Outer Banks, Redskins tickets, a flat-screen TV, piano or voice lessons, season tickets to the Manassas Ballet Theatre, jewelry and numerous pieces of art. Most of the art has been donated by The Art Group in Mt. Jackson, Blair said.

"Some of the things that are on there are very appealing to me," he said. "Based on the bids we've had so far, someone's going to walk away with some steals."

When asked if there was a target the Volunteer Farm hoped to hit with the benefit, Blair said, "A lot of money."

"We need to do something about fundraising this year," he said. "Our income has been cut in half, I guess. Of course, everyone else's has. We get a good bit of our donations or income from churches -- about 25 percent -- and I know a lot of pastors have told me that they're not taking in enough to pay their own bills, let alone support other mission activities.

"At the same time, what we're trying to do is to produce more food for more hungry people. That group has increased by 30 percent or more."

Last year, 3,100 volunteers harvested 35 tons of vegetables, Blair said.

"This year, we're trying to produce at least 50 tons of food," he said.

To do so, 5,000 to 6,000 volunteers will be needed, Blair said. Also needed are donations.

"The more we plant, the greater the expenses," Blair said. "Farming is not cheap. People don't realize how expensive it is. That's the reason the cost of vegetables go up in the supermarket."

Besides the vegetable farm in Woodstock, the Volunteer Farm of Zepp Valley was recently created to raise livestock. And, in January, a lease was signed on a 97-acre farm in Culpeper, Blair said.

"We need to think of that farm as about 50 percent vegetables and 50 percent donated animals," he said.

There are 18 goats on the Zepp farm, and more donated animals are needed, Blair said. He expects more animals to be donated after the Shenandoah County Fair, and 12 Angus steer have been pledged.

The June 6 benefit was created by Con Burch, one half of Con and Cash. She'd gone to the Volunteer Farm of Woodstock for a job interview, she said. While she didn't get the job, she met Blair and told him she was going to do a concert to raise money.

"I was expecting to start out like a little house concert, but everyone's wanted to participate and it's been great," Burch said. "All these [performers] are my friends. Everybody's volunteered their time. We're very positive and we're looking for a big crowd, but we need people's support really, really badly. We're hoping to sell 500 tickets."

Her friends, Jennifer and Mike Adamy, are opening Crooked Run Cellars on July 18, but have agreed to host the benefit. An early 1900s Pennsylvania bank barn will serve as the wine-tasting room.

"[Burch] had told me what she wanted to do," Mrs. Adamy said. "We thought this might be a good venue for it. It's a worthy cause."

Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to the concert, and encouraged to buy tickets in advance, although they will be available at the venue.

Tickets are $20 each, and can be bought at Woodstock Cafe, Fort Valley Nursery and Jack's Garage, by mail from the Volunteer Farm, 277 Crider Lane, Woodstock, VA 22664, and on the Internet at www.VolunteerFarm.org and at crookedruncellars.com.

Online bids can also be placed at the Volunteer Farms' Web site.

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