21 August 2023

Gunning Gold: Helping kids and getting gardens growing

| Sally Hopman
Start the conversation
Group of people with shovels

Have shovels, bags and utes, will dig for Gunning Gold. Volunteers prepare for the 2023 fundraiser for Gunning Public School. Photo: Supplied.

Every year around this time, a group of folk head out to a designated sheep property, in their worst clothes, and delve under the shearing shed – searching for gold. Gunning Gold, that is.

Gunning Gold is sheep poo, the yearly fundraiser for Gunning Public School, destined to enrich the capital’s gardens, bag by bag.

The group, parents and friends of the school, collect the mature manure, stack it, bag it and ‘ute’ it into town for delivery to Canberra gardeners.

Gunning Gold coordinator Campbell Basnett said according to many Canberra gardeners, it really was like gold for their gardens, with some customers buying it every year since it started in 1997.

READ ALSO Bush block to break the ice for Gunning’s growing community

“It has become a real thing,” Campbell said. “Some of our customers even send us pictures of the tomato plants they’ve grown with Gunning Gold and often when we deliver it, people have given us coffee and cookies – we get a lot of repeat customers.”

Each year, one sheep property volunteers its shearing shed as a collection site – and this year it is Luke Dowling’s farm, Denbeigh Grove at Bevendale.

“Last year we collected and sold 1200 bags to 130 Canberra gardens, raising $12,650 for Gunning Public School,” Campbell said. “This year we’re aiming for 1300 – and it looks like we’ll make it because we have already sold 650 bags.”

Women piling up bags

Gunning Gold volunteers hard at work piling up bags for this year’s school fundraiser. Photo: Supplied.

When the project started more than 20 years ago, the volunteers were chuffed to sell 250 bags. But those days were different, Campbell said, pre-computers.

“Back then we did everything manually,” he said. “You’d have to write up every order and then we’d go to Gundaroo to meet people and take the bags into Canberra. But thanks to computers, it pretty much does itself.

“That’s very important because it’s all volunteers who do this. We have class reps, parents from each class to rally the troops.” The volunteers use their own petrol and vehicles to deliver the fertiliser.

READ ALSO Upper Lachlan residents urged to embark on post-bushfire journey – through art

“We’re not flipping burgers at a Bunnings on Saturdays. This is our one big fundraiser for the year … that’s why it is so important,” Campbell said.

The project has raised almost $300,000 for the school, allowing it to fund everything from air-conditioners in classrooms to computers, teaching resources and a basketball court. They also hope there’ll be enough to make the court weatherproof for the youngsters.

This year, funds raised from Gunning Gold may also help to save young lives.

Children with shovels and bags

Youngsters from Gunning Public School dig in to help collect the “gold”. Photo: Supplied.

“Our fundraising efforts this year will go towards intensive swimming classes in the summer for Kindergarten and Years 1 and 2,” Campbell said.

“A study showed the increase in the number of kids who hadn’t been able to learn to swim because of the COVID pandemic, so we thought it would be a great project to fund.”

With many of the Gunning youngsters living on farms, their safety, when it came to dams and rivers, was paramount.

This year, customers can buy bags of Gunning Gold for $12 each – with a minimum of five bags per order at $60. The bags will be delivered to Canberra on the last Sunday of winter, 27 August, just in time for spring gardening.

More information is available on the Gunning Gold website.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.