John Hartom is a visual artist who spent 29 years as a high school art educator. In 1990 he co-founded The Empty Bowls Project, an international grassroots effort to fight hunger. After more than thirty years Empty Bowls events continue to raise both awareness and money across the United States and beyond. He and his wife moved to Yancey County in 2004 and in 2010 John co-founded the Dig In! Yancey Community Garden. He served as a Board member for eight years, three years as Board President.