URGENT Meeting of SOWN Members


URGENT meeting of SOWN members and friends to discuss the impact of the reallocation of nursery facilities!!!!!

In recent months you may have heard about the closure of the Greening Australia Nursery. Subsequent to that closure the former staff and volunteers have re-opened the nursery and are operating it as The Gap Native Nursery (TGNN). This was made possible with the assistance of our former President and local BCC councillor Geraldine Knapp.

As the nursery has no formal entity at this time, it acts under the auspices of SOWN and all the volunteers are registered as SOWN volunteers. The former paid employees are now working as volunteers for the nursery.

Under the new arrangement it was proposed that the facility be shared between the Ashgrove Men’s Shed and TGNN. The footprint was to be divided up to support both groups and SOWN was to be given an increase of land to expand our nursery. This would mean that TGNN would have a significant, but smaller area, to build and maintain their not-for-profit nursery. They would continue to provide the same service that was provided by the Greening Australia Nursery and MOTT prior to them.

A meeting was called on Thursday 8th January 2015 to discuss the situation.

It was my belief that the meeting with the BCC, was to be little more than a meet and greet and have preliminary discussion on how to divide up the available space.

Given the content of the meeting held between Brisbane City Council Officers, SOWN (represented by myself Dick Harding and Lynn Swan), The Gap Native Nursery (TGNN) and a small number of volunteers who invited themselves to the meeting, it is now necessary to call a meeting of SOWN and friends. We need express our discontent with the proposal by the BCC to impose the Men’s Shed on the site now occupied by SOWN and TGNN. I also need to gain the members opinion on their preferred line of action in this matter in order to reply to the council’s ultimatum.

Let me state, that I personally and any of the Nursery volunteers involved, believe that the Men’s Shed is a worthy cause and should be supported.

Unfortunately, it has become apparent that the placement of a Men’s Shed in the grounds of TGNN would result in the closure of that nursery and would impact significantly on the SOWN Nursery to the point it may eventually result in its CLOSURE.

The original concept was to establish the Men’s Shed in the cottage and build a 10 x 8 Meter shed in the grounds of TGNN. The Cottage would be a shared facility. I was originally advised that the size of the group would be approximately 100 men. At the meeting last Thursday the representatives of the Men’s Shed made it clear that it was their intention to eventually support a group of 300 men on the site. Additionally, their concept of sharing the cottage was that they would occupy it 7 days a week and allow access to the toilets and move the water heater outside so that it could be used by SOWN and TGNN. This would allow us to make a cup of tea without disturbing them. We would not be allowed free access to the facilities of the cottage as we have had in the past.

The placement of their shed, which is now 12 x10 meters, almost three times the floor space of the current SOWN shed, is also a problem as their initial site of choice is alongside the cottage. This is the prime growing area for TGNN’s plants and it would cast a show on the remainder of the growing area. This structure would drastically reducing plant growth and severely impact on the ability of TGNN to survive.

An alternative placement of the shed at the back of the nursery has been rejected because it is too close to a dwelling. Another option is to build their shed on the current location of the SOWN shed and we locate our shed closer to the TGNN nursery. This would mean that they would occupy an area from the end of the embankment, to the fence at the rear and to the end of our current gate. Besides relocating our shed we would have to arrange new access to our premises and occupy a significant proportion of the TGNN nursery.

At the meeting, I was given an ultimatum that I should deliver SOWN’s response by the close of business the next day, if we wished to be included in the decision process. I objected to this on the grounds that under our constitution, the SOWN committee can only enact the wishes of its members and is not empowered to make decisions on behalf of it’s members. As a result the dead line has been extended until Friday next week 16th January 2015. In order to facilitate this ultimatum I have decided to call a meeting of members and friends of SOWN at the nursery, at 6pm, on this coming Wednesday evening, 14th January 2015. This is a critical meeting for the future of SOWN and the Nursery – please ATTEND and support SOWN. The more that attend, the better we are able to demonstrate how much we value the nursery to the BCC and the community.

I apologise for the short notice, however this is dictated by the current circumstances. The more that attend, the better we are able to demonstrate our value to the community.

Leo Lee
0409 536 533 or email leolee1@bigpond.com