MEMBERS of the Yanakie community are reaping not only freshly harvested and made home produce at the Yanakie Grow, Gather, Share shed in Millar Road but also new and lasting friendships, too.
What was once the local newspaper and magazine recycling depot near the gateway to the Yanakie Recreation Reserve has now been given a new purpose in life.
The rectangular steel shed has become the hub of an ever-widening circle of Yanakie district residents who are bringing their extra vegetables, fruit, herbs, labelled preserves, seeds, and potted seedlings and plants there for others to enjoy.
They bring a cabbage or a head of broccoli and exchange it for some strawberries, or perhaps a bunch of nubbly carrots, a sprig or two of mint or even a few eggs – there’s nearly always something tasty or interesting to see!
Grow, Gather, Share began in August 2020 after nine-year old Yanakie girl Casey Johnson and her visiting friend Ashby were bored one day and they came up with the idea of setting up a little swap and share stall outside Casey’s house.
Word soon got out into the local community and it wasn’t all that long before the stall was swamped with donations!
Casey’s mum, Jess Johnson, who is a member of the Yanakie Hall Committee, asked the committee on her daughter’s behalf whether the old paper shed might be given another use, and so Yanakie Grow, Gather, Share found its very own home.
“We organised a clean-up day where we would clean up the shed,” Casey wrote in an essay describing how Yanakie Grow, Gather, Share was started.
“Ten people came including me and we got it all cleaned out and we put some old crates in and an old table so step one was done.”
Casey said “an amazing artist” named Paula Kelly Paull who lives with her husband Damian further along Millar Road “loved the idea” of the shed and “wanted to help so she volunteered to do art with me that we could put up on the wall.”
The result is a colourful sign that shows exactly what Yanakie Grow, Gather, Share is about, along with a list of items that are welcome to be left at the shed.
Other locals have donated their time, energy, expertise and resources to the shed, such as clear roof sheets to let in more light, a handsome scarecrow on duty at the door, and a secure box for donations from passers-by without produce of their own.
Jess said Yanakie Grow, Gather, Share is growing “in a small but vibrant community.
“This is a place where members of our community can share homemade, homegrown or foraged foods and other items including clean empty jars with lids, and even recipes, with each other,” she said.
“Establishing this wonderful project in collaboration with our fabulous community … has been most enjoyable, inspiring, and rewarding.
“We have two produce drop days each week, on Monday and Thursday, and we ask people with items to donate to please deliver them by 10 am so we can restock the shed and have it ready again,” Jess said.
“Our scarecrow will be out the front on drop-off days to greet people and to thank them!
“Otherwise, the shed is always open, and people are invited to give and share their excess produce with others,” she said.
“We thank those who call in to the shed to choose and take only what they will use.”
Jess said both the wider and the Yanakie Grow, Gather, Share community are invited to celebrate the shed’s success at a gathering to be held at the Yanakie Recreation Reserve or in the Settlers Hut behind the Yanakie Hall.
“Please come along and meet at 10 am on Saturday November 28, 2020,” she said.
“As Casey herself has said, Yanakie Grow, Gather, Share is ‘a big idea for a little kid!’”