Council throws festival a lifeline

Council throws festival a lifeline

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SJ Food and Farm Fest organisers Jan Star, Karen Hayes, Merri Harris, Michelle Schofield, Ellen Walker and Christine Wales ahead of this year’s festivities. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

Members of a local volunteer group in the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale were able to breathe a sigh of relief this week after council confirmed they would continue to help fund its festival for the next two years.

At Monday night’s ordinary council meeting councillors voted six to three in support of continuing the shire’s $18,000 contribution to the Serpentine Jarrahdale Food and Farm Alliance’s annual Food and Farm Fest.

Councillors Dave Gossage, Rob Coales, Bill Denholm, Jacqui See, Sam Pipponen and Keira McConkey supported an alternative motion to provide $18,000 for the 2019 and 2020 festivals while councillors Michelle Rich, Morgan Byas and Dave Atwell voted against the motion.

As a condition of the alternate motion the group will be required to undertake a strategic review process after the 2019 Food and Farm Fest event.

During council debate Mr Gossage said the group needed to be supported and the long-term benefits of the group far outweighed any dollar figure.

“As the saying goes, from little things big things grow, and when you are trying to change human behaviour it takes years to do,” he said.

“The Food and Farm Alliance is a fantastic initiative to support our local farmers and local community.”

While Ms Rich said she agreed with everything Mr Gossage had said during the debate she believed the group needed to go through the protocols that had been put onto local governments like every other group.

Food and Farm Alliance president Merri Harris said it was encouraging that the shire felt the group was doing a good job to help change community perspectives and behaviours around consumption of healthy food.

“This funding allows us to pursue the goal of having consumers and producers understand one another for the benefit of both parties,” she said.

Ms Harris said the group was told earlier this year that the shire would be re-evaluating their funding commitment in regards to the annual Food and Farm Fest.

“It’s very unfortunate that it had to be aired for all to see and hear but we are very happy with the outcome,” she said.