Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal
In the communities of the Southern Beaches in Tasmania, which are home to around 5,000 residents, Okines Community House supports local residents through a range of programs offering opportunities for connection, learning and support. At the side of the House, a three-square metre converted shed houses the Food Co-op, which has 120 members including 55 active volunteers, and is highly valued in the community.
The Co-op runs a food assistance program for families in need, including a Breakfast Club, and the school and other local organisations purchase food from the Co-op for their programs. It plays an important role in providing access to nutritious, organic, ethically and sustainably sourced food with minimal packaging at affordable prices. The location is very convenient too, but the space is small.
Despite the Co-op volunteers resourcefully using every nook and cranny in the small shed, the lack of space was still very limiting for this growing enterprise, with shoppers cramped and having to wait outside when queuing to pay and nowhere to store orders for pick up.
To allow the venture to grow, Okines Community House sought funding from the Strengthening Rural Communities program. Their application outlined a 2×4 metre extension to the shed that would be used for storage and display, with a local contractor enlisted to build the extension, and in-kind support from OCH and Co-op volunteers in site preparation and cleaning.
With a $10,000 grant funded by John T Reid Charitable Trusts, they set to work in early 2020, and despite the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions, finished the extension in July 2020.
Their new space is user friendly – shoppers move around with more ease, and volunteers can work without bumping into one another! This is an expansion of infrastructure that has improved the efficiency and experience of the enterprise for everyone involved.