Community

Don’t pooh-pooh this fundraiser: Gunning folk unearth gardening gold

Sally Hopman23 July 2022
People shovelling manure.

Locals work together under the shearing shed to collect bags of Gunning Gold for Canberra gardeners. Photo: Gunning Gold.

When it comes to raising funds for their schools, some parents bake cakes, others sell raffle tickets while others just put their hands in their pockets – again.

In Gunning, a tiny rural village near Yass, they do what comes naturally – they sell Gunning Gold, vintage sheep manure.

For the past 25 years, on one day a year, the school community gathers at a local sheep farm, a different one every year, and head straight underneath the shearing shed to collect the Canberra gardener’s best friend.

“Gunning Gold has certainly stood the test of time as we’re now into our 25th year,” 2022 Gunning Gold coordinator Campbell Basnett, of “Nerragundah”, said.

“It all comes together as good as, well, gold.”

Campbell’s family has run the fine wool property, 5 km from Gunning, for three generations.

“I was tapped on the shoulder to coordinate the campaign this year,” he said. “I have three girls at the school, so it took no convincing for me to take it on.

“Having somewhat automated the process through our new website, it has taken some of the heavy lifting from previous years when hours were spent on the phone to coordinate orders and delivery runs.

Sheep manure under shearing shed.

Vintage sheep manure piled up ready for the Gunning Gold team to come in and bag it. Photo: Gunning Gold.

“There are plenty of people involved and class reps at the school do a great job of rounding up the masses to lend a hand.”

So how does it work? On a Sunday in winter – 21 August this year – parents, students and friends of the school will go out to a sheep property, this year it is “Patonga”, with one group sent under the shearing shed to collect the matured manure, another group bagging it up outside, while a third stacks and counts it. Between 40 and 50 people of all ages are usually involved.

Because the manure has spent at least a season or two drying out under the shearing shed, it’s not hard to collect it.

“It’s a great family day,” Campbell said. “You catch up with people you might not have seen for a while and there are always plenty of jobs for everyone.

“We light a fire, put on a barbecue and everyone has a lot of fun pulling in the same direction working for such a good cause.”

The bags of Gunning Gold are loaded up for delivery on 27 August and delivered to Canberra gardens the next day.


READ ALSO: Gunning butcher snags one of the tastiest regional titles


The Gunning Gold crew usually collects up to 1200 bags of the stuff every year and, at $10 a bag, they have been able to buy equipment and resources for the country school that it would not have otherwise.

“It’s been a focus of the Gunning P&C to provide our kids with opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be available for schools our size,” Campbell said.

“I was a student there many moons ago and it has come full circle with all my three girls attending the school today.

“In 2010, numbers at the school got down to only 38 kids, however the regional growth following COVID in the past few years has seen Gunning as one of the three fastest growing towns in NSW.

Bags of manure

Hundreds of bags of Gunning Gold ready for delivery to Canberra gardeners. Photo: Gunning Gold.

“As a result, the school has some growing pains with 140 children attending in 2022. What a terrific problem to have.”

With such a growth spurt comes a pull on resources but Campbell said the regular funds from Gunning Gold had allowed the school to grow over the years and cope with the influx of new students.

Since it began in 1997, Gunning Gold has raised about $250,000 for the school, allowing it to fund everything from music and Mandarin lessons to sports equipment, smart boards and iPads.

Two years ago, the school was able to install a multi-purpose basketball court. It hopes money raised from this year’s Gunning Gold will help pay to enclose the court, making it an all-weather facility that children can use all year round.

Campbell said Gunning Gold was a win-win project for the whole community.

“Sheds need clearing out from time to time,” he said. “So this initiative does the farmers a favour and what better way than to put money raised from selling the bags of Gold back into the local school. We have a lot of very loyal and long-standing customers.”

Orders are now open for the 2022 Gunning Gold with delivery scheduled for the last Sunday of winter, just in time for spring planting.

Original Article published by Sally Hopman on Riotact.

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