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CELEBRATING COMMUNITY CROPS: Corrigin groups share benefits of rotating harvest program

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Cally DupeCountryman
The money raised from the Corrigin Primary School P&C's community crop will go towards revamping the school's library.
Camera IconThe money raised from the Corrigin Primary School P&C's community crop will go towards revamping the school's library. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/Countryman

For more than two decades, the Corrigin Community Crop has funded projects and upgrades throughout the community, from netball courts to library renovations.

The Corrigin Parents and Citizens Association committee dropped their pens and jumped on to airseeders after securing the tender to run the town’s community crop three years ago.

It was good timing for the organisation, with three solid years in a row and the most recent two coinciding with the State’s biggest harvests on record.

The shire-owned block is put out to tender every three years, giving community groups an opportunity to share in its harvest profits to fund projects in the Corrigin area.

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Corrigin Primary School P&C president Katherine Weguelin and vice president Amy Lee.
Camera IconCorrigin Primary School P&C president Katherine Weguelin and vice president Amy Lee. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/Countryman

The recent tender was won by the Corrigin Farm Improvement Group, one of WA’s most progressive grower-driven groups, which has plans to help drive research and investment.

The group will take the reins for seeding this year, just weeks after the P&C pulled up stumps on one of the crop’s best harvests on record.

Other successful tenderers from years gone by include the local tennis, hockey and bowls clubs — each of which has been able to bankroll short and long-term projects.

New netball courts, a revamped bowling green, upgraded netball and hockey courts and new lights for sports have all been funded.

The 100ha farm is owned by the shire and was originally destined to become housing.

Corrigin Farm Improvement Group executive officer Veronika Crouch.
Camera IconCorrigin Farm Improvement Group executive officer Veronika Crouch. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Shannon Verhagen

But Shire of Corrigin president Des Hickey said it was likely to be farmed — with a peppercorn lease — for a long time.

“It is just a great idea … it was bought originally for development but it is such an asset to the town and how it directs money back into the town,” Cr Hickey said.

“Every community club needs money and that can be hard to raise. This is a huge strength to the local community.”

Cr Hickey said it was “a source of pride” for the local shire to be able to provide the land to local community groups to use.

“It is a way for the shire to support clubs to have that facility … otherwise clubs have to go and source that privately,” he said.

“It is a peppercorn lease and a really good system.”

Corrigin P&C committee member Jackie Grylls said a big portion of the profits had been used to renovate the school’s library and “freshen it up”.

It was somewhat serendipitous timing for the P&C, with their usual fundraisers of bake sales and sausage sizzles made difficult by COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

“The library renovation was a big ticket item for us and we were able to use some money to add smaller things to the children’s classrooms,” Ms Grylls said.

“Having three good years of crops was a really great bonus for us.

“A lot of those fundraisers we couldn’t do during COVID … whereas cropping still happened.”

Ms Grylls said the crop’s proximity to town and the local CBH receival site made it easy to find volunteers for seeding and harvest.

“We are very lucky that people are always so willing to help out,” she said.

“It is a great group of parents and we have the opportunity to do a lot of little fundraisers

“But it was good knowing we didn’t need to rely on a bake sale or sausage sizzle for a while.”

Corrigin District High School principal Shannon Hardingham said it was impressive to see what the P&C had been able to achieve.

“I feel lucky to be able to help them initiate the projects and spend that money for a little school like ours,” she said.

“Our kids are going to benefit because of all their hard work.

“A big focus has been putting that library at the front of the children’s minds.

“The modern resources are able to let our teachers teach in the best way possible.”

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