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Tory Kassabaum Sells Local Flowers to Support Nonprofits

By Inside Columbia
encounters

Photos by L.G. Patterson and Tory Kassabaum

encounters 1292 minFlowers are used every day to celebrate life. Whether it’s a wedding, an anniversary, a holiday, a special occasion, giving thanks to someone, apologizing to a loved one or even recognizing loss, flowers are most used to bring joy with their vibrant colors, pleasing scents and beauty.

Tory Kassabaum, the founder of Fair Shake Flowers, turned her love for flowers into a passion project to help the community. Kassabaum and her mother grow local flowers and sell bouquets to the community on social media and at the Columbia Farmers Market to raise money for those who are the most vulnerable in the community. “I saw there was a constant need to help people in the community,” she says. “I have this huge yard; I really love gardening and I grow a bunch of flowers and I love giving back, so I just put those things together.” While Fair Shake Flowers has donated 100% of the profits to several organizations, including the CoMo Mobile Aid Collective and The Center Project, and helped raise money for students to go to art camp, for Black educator’s classroom supplies and more, Kassabaum has a personal tie to one nonprofit, the BooneCounty Community Bail Fund. “I was one of the founders of BCCBF, which was born from a racial activist group,”she says. “Now I love to continue to help the mission of that organization since I have seen first-hand just how important the bail fund is.” BCCBF is a volunteer-run community bail fund supporting community members who do not have the resources to post bail. “It’s meant to get people out of the spiral, so they don’t then lose their jobs, their children, their cars and then plunge them furtherinto poverty,” Kassabaum says. “It was meant to get people out, so they are nota part of the system.”

encounters 2149 minPeggy Placier, a volunteer for BCCBF says Kassabaum’s efforts to raise money for the bail fund are amazing. “It’s substantial,” Placier says.“It’s a substantial amount of our budget and a huge help because sometimes we get low in funds and then she’ll do one of her campaigns.” The BCCBF reopened on March 1 to continue to help community members post bail after losing its fiscal sponsor in 2023 and waiting for federal approval for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Thanks to people like Kassabaum, theBCCBF was able to continue to raise money while waiting for approval. “It has been really fantastic to have someone so creative and resourceful doing that for us,” Placier says. And help is always appreciated, whether you are volunteering to answer phones, going to jail to provide rides or making donations, as Placier says every act of kindness is appreciated and needed. “We need volunteers,” she says.“We are looking at even involving students or members of service organizations or anyone that has a little bit of time every week or every other week.

While raising money for nonprofits is the main source of motivation, Kassabaum and her mother both also have a passion for growing local, native flowers in the area. “Flowers have a big environmental impact and when they are not grown locally, they are grown sometimes in unethical conditions or conditions that are not environmentally friendly,” Kassabaum says. Emphasizing that her flowers are grown a mile from the market, “We don’t use pesticides and they are grown organically,” she says. “We are trying to help the environment with the growing of flowers.” Kassabaum grows all kinds of flowers along with native flowers and grasses to Missouri, including goldenrod, coneflowers, asters, yarrow, coreopsis, bee balm and more.“We grow what grows well here and what lasts well in a vase,” she says.The community has been incredibly supportive of Kassabaum’s project, even helping her sell out every week at the Columbia Farmers Market.“It was so nice to see our customers and be out in the public talking about our mission.”

While Fair ShakeFlowers is currently a small operation, Kassabaum says the goal is to one day become a nonprofit. “I would love to buy an empty lot in town and turn it into a place for Fair Shake Flowers and create a community garden,” she says. “I want it to someday become more than a passion project.” To order a bouquet or to learn more about Kassabaum’s project, visit facebook.com/fairshakeflowers.

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