The green and local auction has created an opportunity to promote the values of sustainability and transition, while raising funds for the community garden.
Raising funds to support transition activities is always a challenge. Sustainable Macleod which was founded 6 years ago, began developing the Macleod Organic Community Garden 2 years ago. This has transformed us from a very active group requiring very little money to an even more active group needing considerable funds to cover community garden construction and ongoing expenses. While we can call on willing volunteers to build and maintain the garden, material costs, insurance and ongoing inputs are considerable.
The impetus for starting a community garden developed out of a strong support base we originally established through a monthly Veggie Swap, workshops and social activities.
From the beginning Sustainable Macleod has sought to establish strong links with the Macleod community to work towards a strong, sustainable, local economy. Establishing the community garden has enabled us to have a strong presence in the local community. Residents have followed the progress of the garden with great interest, many of them becoming members as a result of walking past and observing its development. We currently have 135 paid members. The $25 p.a. fee is readily recouped in vegetables.
The major fundraising event each year since the inception of the community garden has been the Green and Local Auction (now renamed the Community Garden Fundraiser). This event raises double any other fundraising event of Sustainable Macleod.
In its first year, the auction was live with a silent auction component for less expensive items. This continued in the second year but we put the silent auction online. While this required considerable work before the auction, it allowed us to have spirited pre-bidding and we gained a lot of publicity leading up to the final day when the auction moves from online to in person. In 2017, we turned the auction into a silent auction only, with pre-bidding online and further, in person bidding, on the final day. In 2017 the auction raised $4020 – a great boost to our finances. Half this was raised online in the preceding month and the other half on the day.
The auction has also given us the opportunity to involve Sustainable Macleod members, local businesses and the wider Macleod community in developing a vision for Macleod and for us to promote the values of sustainability and transition.
Sustainable Macleod members spent weeks approaching shops and other businesses for items which ranged from a Christmas ham from our local butcher to cases of beer from our local brewery. Service oriented businesses from hairdressers to health practitioners to gardeners were able to offer vouchers. A dedicated team of members put together luxurious hampers of home made goodies. The range of items was tremendous. In addition, members donated services or a wide variety of items either new or in good condition. In 2017 the total number of items was 122.
Through the auction, we have been able to forge a close relationship with our local shopping village and nearby specialist shops and sustainable businesses. We continue this by actively encouraging members to shop locally. This connection has opened up other possibilities. We take coffee grounds from local cafes, grass clippings from local mowing businesses and we are investigating the feasibility of taking kitchen waste from cafes. We also have a member sit on the Macleod Village Traders’ Committee which keeps both parties up to date with issues and events in Macleod and allows us to work together for the good of Macleod.
The auction, like the community garden itself, has given members a focal point for their energies. Having a successful auction gives members a tremendous boost. Overcoming reluctance to ask for donations has given some members an experience of stretching beyond their comfort zones and means we can consider expanding into other activities, such as the Transition Streets project.
The popularity of the event meant this year we were able to have both the Banyule City Mayor and the local Federal MP open the auction. From its inception, we have had the broader Transition movement well and truly in mind. The auction has been one way to build community, support the local traders, build connection with two levels of government and raise funds – all of which are essential in building a thriving Transition Town.