Seeking up to $100,000 from the Inverell Shire Council for their future rebuild, Inverell Community Gardens volunteers were keen to show decision-makers in Wednesday’s Civil and Environmental meeting the benefits of the investment.
“There’s so many benefits to come from the engagement and involvement at the gardens,” Gardens co-ordinator Jane O’Brien said.
“For me volunteering over the years has meant that I’ve met lots of like-minded people. I’ve come to find somewhere where I belong.”
The project is estimated to cost $241,000, with the Gardens set to move further along Swanbrook Road to make way for a carpark.
Ms O’Brien shared how the Gardens changed her life at a time when she was reeling from grief after the loss of her three-year-old niece to cancer, and struggling with depression and anxiety while raising three children.
“I had one constant in my life, and that was gardening. And that’s what led me to this group. This group of amazing people that are here with me today in support,” she said.
Ms O’Brien said volunteering at the Gardens helped her rediscover her abilities outside her work as a stay-at-home mum, and gave her a strong sense of self worth and confidence.
“I share my story not because I think I’m different or special, but because I think each of you could identify with my story as well and because we are facing major health, both physical and mental issues, as well as climate change.”
The presentation outlined the wide community involvement in the gardens, including Macintyre High students volunteering once a week, Brighter Access clients helping cafes dispose food waste responsibly with the compost program and Joblink Plus building infrastructure with work for the dole participants.
Inverell District Family Day Care Services (IDFS) use the Gardens so regularly to teach youngsters about nature, that they plan to create a building on the new site.
“It’s a really beautiful collaborative partnership approach,” Gardens volunteer Helen McCosker said.
The funding request will be discussed by the council in their next monthly meeting. Volunteers do not currently have a moving date, and are in the early planning stages for the new site. Community input is welcome.
They have also applied for a $100,000 Building Better Regions grant, and will receive another $30,000 from the Department of Land for the amenities block.
The breakdown of the $198,000 plan for stage one includes $21, 535 for earthworks, design and planning, $21,240 for the entrance and required carpark, $14,900 for water, power and sewerage utilities and $140,336 for infrastructure. Infrastructure includes a storage and processing building, toilet block, playground and shade fencing, solar lighting and a chicken enclosure.