Castlemaine cafe calls for donations from public to replace borrowed tables and chairs.

A cafe bringing local produce to Castlemaine is calling for the public’s help to raise $25,000 to replace or pay for equipment borrowed earlier this year.

Social enterprise Growing Abundance Project is raising funds for their cafe The Local, which opened earlier this year.

It was the latest in a series of projects dating back to 2010, when locals came together to discuss how the community could become more sustainable.

Growing Abundance project manager Nikki Valentini said Growing Abundance had relied on loaned and donated equipment to launch the new cafe.

Ms Valentini hoped a six-week funding campaign would help the cafe repay or return equipment as well as furniture like tables and chairs.

Donations would also help buy crockery, glassware, a fridge for the kitchen, a blender and an online ordering system, among other items.

Ms Valentini said Growing Abundance could not ask for a bank loan because it was an incorporated association.

So far the cafe had used novel and creative payments for its debts, especially for custom-built items like their new counter top.

“We do a lot of trade for labour. We’ve paid a few labourers in food, which they were pretty happy with,” Ms Valentini said.

Some donations would entitle people to coffees or lunches. There was even a fully catered event at the cafe on offer for those willing to donate enough money.

The cafe sourced 95 per cent of its produce locally, using networks built through the Harvest Project, the group’s signature program.

That annual program saw volunteers tend to backyards and collect the windfall of harvests at local orchards. Volunteers kept some of the bounty, but most of it was sent to schools, charities and other community groups.

“We wanted to maximise the yields of food here in this region and minimise waste,” Ms Valentini said. 

All of the cafe’s profits would be used to pay for the Harvest Project and other local food programs.

“We rely on vounteers for the Harvest Project, but we also rely on a coordinator who has a lot of work to do,” Ms Valentini said.

“They need to direct volunteers, know where to send them, where harvested food is being used and be able to contact everyone involved.”

Ms Valentini said the cafe would also pay for Harvest Project equipment.

Click here to find out more or to donate.