Community and businesses rally to support Ed Rotgans and his work to transform a Taree reserve

Alisha Whitfield (right) applauds the community for its support of her father, Ed Rotgans on the Facebook page, ‘Help Ed Rebuild His Garden’. Photo: Facebook.

Alisha Whitfield (right) applauds the community for its support of her father, Ed Rotgans on the Facebook page, ‘Help Ed Rebuild His Garden’. Photo: Facebook.

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The count is 341 and increasing daily. It is the number of people who stand ready to act to support any initiative to help Ed Rotgans to continue to garden on a reserve in High Street, Taree.

Mr Rotgans’ daughter, Alisha Whitfield applauded the community for its support on the Facebook page, ‘Help Ed Rebuild His Garden’.

“Thank you so much! I am one of Ed's daughters and I know I speak for all my family in thanking everyone involved. I'm so glad that people in the community are there for my father helping keep his life's work afloat! Really appreciate all that you guys are doing! Shows that the Taree community is willing to stick together when it counts, much love.”

Help Ed Rebuild His Garden’ is the Facebook page created by Amanda Henry in response to community outrage at the decision of the Department of Industry Lands to poison plants on a reserve in High Street. For around eight years, Ed Rotgans voluntarily laboured to manage weeds on the land that neighboured his home, he created a garden to border the busy road and aspired to “always wanted to have something flowering so that people could see something other than weeds.”

One weed at a time, he worked to clear the reserve and after many years the reserve transformed from an eyesore to inviting green space. The community watched him work and valued the results of his labour.

Around a month ago, Mr Rotgans opened a letter from the Department of Industry Lands and it directed him to immediately stop activities at the site and about three weeks ago it engaged a contractor to poison all the non-indigenous flora and weeds with Roundup and Brush Off. The garden is now slowly dying but the action of the department enlivened the community to protest and act to support Mr Rotgans.

Amanda said community response to the Facebook page had “been amazing and shows people really do care about what Ed created for the community.”

“It takes your breath away. Everyone has been so supportive of what I am trying to do, people and businesses really want to help Ed rebuild the garden.”

Amanda said Wade Death from Jack & Co in Taree had offered $500, Rhonda Charlesworth from Ronnies Creative Cutting and Kara Woodward, who owns a small nursery want to contribute plants.

“There are so many offers from people. Plants, money, their time to help plant, it’s amazing but I’m worried that council and the department won’t let us do it.”

Amanda said she had spoken to the department and was told that “within the month they have plans to treat more weeds before they can even think of regeneration.”

“They’ve taken into consideration my Facebook page and the community response, so hopefully something positive comes out of this.”

Amanda said she would keep the community updated on Facebook and urged people to ‘Like’ the page ‘Help Ed Rebuild His Garden’.

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