Every Saturday morning the CWA courtyard in Dowling Street is a flurry of activity with residents buying fresh, locally grown produce.
The Local Growers Stall is celebrating its fifth birthday on September 16 after a group of volunteers, members of Local Living Dungog, started the project in 2012.
“The initial aim of the stall was to encourage people to share their garden or farm produce so people in Dungog could buy fresh, local primary produce,” said Loo Boothroyd.
“The broader aim is to develop sustainability in a rural community where people have been growing food for a very long time and yet this local produce wasn’t available in the shops, other than occasionally. “
The Local Growers Stall has now been running every Saturday morning, with the exception of a few special days, for 5 years in September this year, thanks to a dedicated group of 15-20 volunteers from Local Living Dungog who run the stall each week on a roster basis with a remarkable treasurer keeping everything in order.
People keep coming back to the stall as the produce is picked when ripened without having to be put in cold storage, its locally sourced and uses minimum fossil fuels and its always a surprise what will be on offer.
The stall operates from 8.30am – 12pm.
The stall also has the support of Dungog Shire Community Centre who cover the group for insurance and distributes leftover food if donated by growers.
A grower can be anyone with surplus produce from backyard to commercial growers.
Growers turn up on a Saturday morning, register their produce, nominate their price and receive 90% of the sales.
The Growers Stall keeps 10% of the sales to cover rent and the purchase of stall necessities.
Over the 5 years there has been an average of 45 growers per year supplying produce to the stall and on a weekly basis there are around 14 growers per week, including some children who earn a little pocket money from eggs, microgreens, fruit and vegetables.
“There’s a buzz, every Saturday morning,” said Loo Boothroyd.
“It’s a friendly, positive environment where people have a chat about what’s growing, how to cook it and tips about planting.
“People new to the community, in particular, find it a wonderful way to meet other locals.”
Over the past 5 years the stall has sold more than $104,000 worth of local primary produce, which includes, honey, eggs, flowers, and potted edible plants along with fruit and vegetables.
The Local Growers Stall has made donations to support community projects such as the Ladies Auxillary at the Dungog Showground to upgrade their section of the pavilion, Boomerang Bags, the Primary School Vegetable Garden, the Dungog Shire Community Centre, Power Choices and is in the process of arranging for a community seat in the main street.
New growers are always welcome to share their surplus produce on a Saturday morning, and, let the group know if you’d like to volunteer.
There’s more information on the Local Living Dungog website.
Join the group on Saturday September 16 when they celebrate five continuous years of operation.