Ap­ply for Straw­berry Fields grant

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

Plans for the re­de­vel­op­ment of the Tocumwal Visi­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre are well un­der­way thanks partly to funds re­ceived through the Straw­berry Fields Fes­ti­val’s Com­mu­nity Grants Scheme.

A $5000 do­na­tion to the Tocumwal Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee dur­ing last year’s round of grants was put to­wards Stage 2 of the cen­tre’s re­de­vel­op­ment, which will in­clude a res­tau­rant above the cen­tre over­look­ing the Mur­ray River.

Held an­nu­ally in Tocumwal since 2011, the Straw­berry Fields Fes­ti­val started its grants scheme in 2015. It is de­signed to sup­port lo­cal ini­tia­tives which en­hance com­mu­nity eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and im­prove the qual­ity of ev­ery­day life in the South­ern Rive­rina.

TCDC pres­i­dent Ross Bodey said the grant they re­ceived had helped the Tocumwal Fore­shore re­de­vel­op­ment be­come closer to a re­al­ity.

‘‘The $5000 we re­ceived was used to get (de­vel­op­ment) plans drawn up for the top storey of the Visi­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre,’’ Mr Bodey said.

‘‘With­out that grant we couldn’t have run our path — we were su­per ap­pre­cia­tive of the money we re­ceived from Straw­berry Fields.’’

Mr Bodey said the grant helped the group to a stage where it could ob­tain a for­mal quote for the project, which is ex­pected to cost $3.2 mil­lion.

Other grant win­ners from last year in­clude Bi­ralee Preschool, Ber­ri­gan Chil­dren’s Cen­tre and Ber­ri­gan Shire Com­mu­nity Spin Space.

Bi­ralee Preschool di­rec­tor Jess Wil­liams said the $2800 they re­ceived not only helped en­able the de­vel­op­ment of a new tex­tured path out the front of the Fin­ley-based school, but also funded lo­cal sus­tain­abil­ity work­shops at its spe­cial open day on Novem­ber 12 last year.

‘‘This was a great op­por­tu­nity for ev­ery­one to in­ter­act and we were de­lighted to have Straw­berry Field di­rec­tor Tara Ben­ney come along on the day . . . she was im­pressed with our sus­tain­abil­ity ef­forts,’’ Miss Wil­liams said.

The preschool’s open day fea­tured a fruit fly pre­sen­ta­tion by Ber­ri­gan Shire Coun­cil eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Mer­ran Socha and one on keep­ing back­yard poul­try by Rose Til­ley, who also as­sisted Jemma Brockie in run­ning a compost workshop and grow­ing or­ganic veg­eta­bles demon­stra­tion. Norma Gowans con­ducted the Wel­come to Coun­try and pre­sented bush tucker plants.

Ap­pli­ca­tions for this year’s round of grants are now open and Mr Bodey en­cour­ages lo­cal groups and or­gan­i­sa­tions to ‘‘make the most’’ of the in­creased grant pool of $25,000.

‘‘Ev­ery or­gan­i­sa­tion has things they can do to im­prove their fa­cil­ity or area. The process it­self is not hard to do. It didn’t take long at all to fill out the (on­line) ap­pli­ca­tion,’’ Mr Bodey said.

Straw­berry Fields di­rec­tor Tara Ben­ney said the fund is a way to give back to the com­mu­nity and the res­i­dents who have wel­comed the fes­ti­val and its at­ten­dees year af­ter year.

‘‘We want the event to have a pos­i­tive lasting im­pact in the Ber­ri­gan Shire and we love hear­ing about all the ways this fund has ben­e­fited the com­mu­nity.’’

The grants fund­ing pool is raised by the on-site fes­ti­val ac­tiv­i­ties such as the Wild­lands Com­mu­nity Bar­be­cue, and a por­tion of ticket sales.

‘‘Peo­ple also now have the op­tion of mak­ing an ex­tra do­na­tion when they buy tick­ets to the fes­ti­val on­line, which has al­ready raised more than $1000,’’ Ms Ben­ney said.

El­i­gi­ble can­di­dates for grants must be based in the Ber­ri­gan Shire and have un­til June 30 to sub­mit their ap­pli­ca­tions at www.straw­berry-fields.com.com.au/grants.

This year’s Straw­berry Fields Fes­ti­val is sched­uled to be held in Tocumwal from Novem­ber 17-19.

Bi­ralee Preschool gar­dener Lau­rie Walsh and preschool­ers Monique and Mad­di­son Keel plant or­ganic veg­eta­bles as part of the sus­tain­abil­ity project en­dorsed by Straw­berry Fields Fes­ti­val Com­mu­nity Grant Scheme.

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