Common sense urged to save community produce stand

May 11, 2022 BY

An infringement notice issued to Winchelsea's Honest and Free stand is under review. Photos: FACEBOOK

SURF Coast Shire council is reviewing an infringement notice that ordered the removal of a popular Winchelsea community garden.

An “Honest and Free” stand and garden on a Barwon Terrace nature strip opened last year, providing a hub for local green thumbs and a source of free, healthy produce for residents amid the COVID pandemic.

The stand displays excess produce from Wincheslea’s keen group of gardeners that is free for residents to take home.

Stall beneficiaries are encouraged to restock the stand with items like seedlings, plants, fresh produce and home-baked goods to replenish stock.

The initiative immediately became popular in Winch and became the centrepiece of a hundreds-strong, active social media network for local growers.

But the garden’s property owners received an infringement notice from the council for obstructing a nature strip in March, sparking local disbelief.

A letter and petition with 141 signatures went before councillors at their April meeting, which called on the council to rescind the fine and allow the local community service to continue.

“The garden and stall has very quickly become a successful point of access for those that find the rising cost of living difficult, it is a place where families and community members can access good produce to supplement their pantries,” the petition said.

“We hope the Surf Coast Shire look favourably upon the (petition) by the community to allow the stall and garden to remain as an important community service.”

Councillors unanimously agreed to accept the petition and expressed their support for its cause at last week’s meeting.

“It’s on the edge of town, it’s not impeding anybody and it’s providing a fantastic community service,” Winchelsea Ward councillor Heather Wellington said.

“The people doing this should be congratulated.

“Hopefully we can continue with an open community garden in Winchelsea.”

Other councillors agreed, saying they were “moved” by the petition and hoped for a common sense outcome.

Council officers will prepare a report for the May meeting on the petition and the infringement notice.