Community Spirit Revival Grow Free

Community Spirit Revival Grow Free

Posted 2017-10-07 by Marie Vonowfollow
Image by Marie Vonow

People often bemoan the fact community spirit seems to have faded over recent decades. In some areas people are undertaking projects to encourage a resurgence of community spirit. In South Australia a project called, 'Grow Free' which started in Meadows has spread across the state. It is now in Victoria and Western Australia in a small way. It will be interesting to see if other states also pick up the idea.

Image by Marie Vonow

Grow Free carts
In my home town there are four Grow Free carts, that I am aware of. Three are outside businesses and one is in front of a house a few minutes walk from my home. I left some parsley and mint there this afternoon and came home with citrus fruit. I also spent a few minutes conversing with the owner of the cart whom I hadn't met before.

I was in a neighbouring town recently when I noticed a cart. There is one outside a thrift shop in another township about fifteen km away.

Cart on the outskirts of a neighbouring town Image by Marie Vonow

What is Grow Free about?
People set up carts, which are often baby change tables, and stock them with surplus fruit, vegies, seeds and seedlings. Local produce is shared in the local community and it is usually organic and much fresher than supermarket items. The idea is that other people will take any items they need and if they can they leave produce they have a surplus of. People are welcome to take food even if they are unable to provide something.

A grass roots way of sharing with the community
People with home vegie gardens often have a surplus of a particular item such as fruit, tomatoes, cucumbers, silverbeet or radishes. Sometimes people give this surplus to family, friends or neighbours. At other times they are still left with produce they don't know what to do with. This is particularly the case with fruit where the whole tree may ripen within a few days. It seems such a waste to throw it out but there is only so much room in the home freezer.

It is better that surplus is used by someone and it promotes a good feeling in the community. When I was talking to the owner of the cart near me this afternoon I was interested to hear some days more people are leaving produce on his cart than those taking it. He actually wishes more people would take things.

Image by Marie Vonow

Items in addition to garden produce
Some people leave seeds and seedlings to help other people set up vegie gardens. Jams, sauces and preserves are sometimes donated. Others donate gardening books and magazines. In a few places people have donated knitted items. There is a feeling of goodwill emanating from people who are willing to give without expecting thanks.

Image by Marie Vonow

Where to find information
There is a Facebook page and recently a website has been started. According to these sources there are now (October 2017) over 130 carts in South Australia, 5 in Victoria and 2 in Western Australia. There have been some inquiries from people living overseas who are interested in the idea.

Information is being shared in addition to surplus produce, with workshops and working bees advertised through the website page..

Image by Marie Vonow

The way Grow Free has spread since the first cart was set up four years ago shows community spirit is still alive and thriving in many areas.


255429 - 2023-07-19 11:58:05


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