Community crop’s a winner

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Cally DupeThe West Australian
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Gary Guelfi and David Butcher at the community crop.
Camera IconGary Guelfi and David Butcher at the community crop. Credit: Cally Dupe

Nine years ago a group of locals took on a block of land and launched the Newdegate Community Crop.

The group was driven by a desire to help their town and since its inception the crop has raised more than $200,000 for local projects.

This year’s 600ha Mace wheat crop is growing steadily, seeded in June by a sub-committee of the Newdegate Machinery Field Days committee.

Community crop volunteer and local farmer Gary Guelfi said the volunteer group was celebrating this year after securing a three-year lease for the 1240ha site.

The land is owned by Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and leased to the group for $30,000 a year.

“We were on a year-in, year-out lease and now we have it for three years, so we are quite happy with that,” Mr Guelfi said.

“It’s just wheat this year, to keep it simple.”

Choosing what to fund is as simple as community members putting forward ideas and the committee coming to an agreement.

Local farmer David Butcher is also involved in the community crop and said said applying for funding was simpler than other grants.

“We are all community based so we have the betterment of the community at heart,” he said.

“Having the crop encourages people to think about what they might like in their town.

“It also means they don’t have to jump through all of the hoops often associated with funding.”

Last year’s crop contributed $50,000 to help build the St John Ambulance sub centre in Lake Grace.

The group has also pledged $200,000 to a skate park playground project, an idea put forward by parents and children in Newdegate.

While it’s been a drier-than-average year so far, the crop is growing.

Mr Guelfi said there were eight different farming families involved in seeding in June.

The group even had some help from McIntosh & Son’s Katanning branch and AFGRI in Lake Grace.

When it comes time to harvest, Mr Butcher said “anyone available helps out”.

“We’ve had a good turn out the last few years, we just wait until people are finished their own harvest and then get going,” he said.

“The only pressure times are during spraying and even that works well.”

Both Mr Guelfi and Mr Butcher said the volunteer group hoped to see the skate park project come to fruition in coming years.

“There are a lot of people in town and they have got together and said ‘this is what we want’,” Mr ... said.

“It’s just something else kids and parents can do and it adds to the aesthetic of the town.”

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