By Kendrea Rhodes
About 18 months ago, this old bus-shelter was termite ridden, slowly disintegrating and very much overlooked. But in its hey-day, from 1942 to 1970, the shed was regularly full of people waiting for the green and brown Graeber bus to take them to school, local towns, or into Adelaide. It was an important community meeting point and, while waiting for a bus, what else was there to do but talk or read a book?
Thanks to two local ladies, Alison Cranwell and Kate King, that community meeting point vibe at the bus shelter is in full swing again in the form of a ‘sharing shed’. Alison, Kate and committed community members renovated the shelter to create a place where people can “Take what you need — Give what you can”. At the Basket Range Sharing Shed you may meet others dropping off produce, tidying and sorting, or picking up produce, a book or magazine — all for free. This is actual sharing: no obligation, no bartering and no money. The only valuation is increased social capital within the community from a system based on trust, cooperation and understanding — essential elements for a well-adjusted society.
The Basket Range Sharing Shed combines two altruistic ideas: Grow Free and Street Library. On its shelves you will find home grown produce such as fruit, vegetables, herbs, preserves, eggs, seeds including Heirloom, seedlings, cuttings and rootstock. Also, other items like coffee grounds and worm tea for the garden, gardening magazines, clean jars, preserves, paper bags and boxes too. While you’re there, browse the Street Library for novels, children’s books, magazines and read the pinboard for notes and heartfelt messages of gratitude.
The Grow Free concept began in Strathalbyn, but the ideas of sharing food and surplus have long existed between groups of humans. Grow Free is a modern format for an ancient practice; a format that fits into our fast-paced lives of technology, transport and efficiency. It started with sharing seedlings and promoting more nutritious foods, but has blossomed into sharing surplus produce like eggs, fruit and veg, and gardening implements. The Grow Free concept has expanded into Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, New Zealand and the USA. In the Adelaide Hills there are more than 20 Grow Free Carts including another combined with a Street Library at The Olive Branch Café in Balhannah. Visit the ‘Grow Free – Adelaide Hills’ Facebook group to keep up with the latest or their website for more information: www.growfree.org.au.
The Street Library is a similar concept based on sharing and surplus without money or barter. There’s no library card or ID required, just respect and literary love. The idea is simple: browse the Street Library, take a book and go about your day. And if you have books gathering dust, you might feed them back into a Street Library sometime in the future. For more information visit their website: streetlibrary.org.au.
For more information on Facebook visit the ‘Basket Range Community Chat and Noticeboard’ or the ‘Grow Free Adelaide Hills’ group. Or call Alison Cranwell on 0409 287 218 or Kate King on 0438 834 758. They are both happy to help anyone interested in similar community endeavours.