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Byron Shire
July 15, 2024

Shocked and disappointed

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I am amazed by something that should have been a good news story, and we desperately need them, that turned out to be a sorry story indeed. There was the uplifting photo of Toni Storer and her fecund verge garden but also the terrible news that Byron Shire Council have told her to remove it because a neighbour complained. I was shocked.

Toni Storer has put time, money and love into building a beautiful garden on her verge to help feed her wider community. I often wonder how families can afford to feed their children enough greens for their optimum health when they have become more expensive than meat and fast food? It is more important than ever to grow our own greens and herbs and develop food sustainability and independence. But not everyone has a green thumb or the time, so it is vital that people like Toni are encouraged and thanked for doing their bit.

It is crazy that one complaint is enough to destroy her hard work and good will. I could understand if the garden was blocking the footpath or dangerous in some other way but the photo indicates otherwise. It reminds me of people moving into Brunswick Heads and then complaining about the Brunswick Picture House. We were so close to losing this valuable community asset but fortunately they worked out a way forward.

I’d like to think that whoever complained is a big enough person to think about the bigger picture of food sustainability, generous gestures and caring, happy communities and will reconsider and withdraw their complaint. Or, better still, that Byron Council realises that free food gardens on verges should be encouraged and supported. I foresee that one day, in the not-too-distant future, where it will become compulsory to use our land more consciously as food supplies dry up.

If it’s a numbers game, and it seems to be, I am going to complain to Council about the situation. If you benefit from Toni’s garden, or are passionate about growing food locally and sharing it with your neighbours, I urge you to send them a message also. Why should one squeak destroy the beautiful cart?

Magenta Appel-Pye, Mullumbimby

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