Nothing to show for garden funding

MORE than 18 months after $250,000 in funding was allocated to the Coffs Coast Local Food Futures Project, the push to establish community gardens in Coffs Harbour and Bellingen is yet to bear fruit.

Last week the Bellingen Council rejected the proposed site for their community garden in McCristal Drive and now the Coffs Harbour City Council is ‘revisiting’ its preference for a flood-prone allotment at England’s Park.

Coffs Harbour City Council’s executive manager strategy and sustainability, Jeff Green, is overseeing the project.

“We have identified another site for Coffs Harbour’s community garden and we’re currently undertaking a thorough assessment,” Mr Green said.

He conceded there were issues with the England’s Park location and said the new site is far better.

“We hope that our recommendation for the new site can be put to the next council meeting in June and is accepted.”

Mr Green said it was unfortunate that Bellingen’s preferred site had this week been rejected.

On Wednesday, Bellingen Council knocked back the Plan of Management for the McCristal Drive location.

Problems with flooding and parking, as well as the potential impact on near neighbours, were major factors in the decision.

In arguing against approving the site, Councillor Gordon Braithwaite said he believed support for the initiative had all but collapsed in Bellingen.

He said that based on attendance at meetings and the fact one prominent businessman had walked away from the concept showed the community garden scheme was in trouble.

Mr Green said it was now up to the Bellingen Shire Council to identify a new and better site.

Time was now of the essence for the community garden projects.

“The $250,000 grant was allocated 18 months ago and has just 18 months to run,” he said.

“Roughly half of that money was for the development of the gardens in Coffs Harbour and Bellingen.

“I want to assure people that very little of the community gardens money has been expended.”



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