Flower power aids fundraising

Julie Stava with some of the donated plants and containers at last year’s fundraiser.

A passion for plants has turned Tocumwal’s Julie Stava into a fundraising force.

Mrs Stava — who moved to Australia from the United States in 1976 to join her husband John, who also hails from the US — has always gardened, inspired first by her dairy farming and cropping grandparents in New York state and later by her interest in growing her own fresh produce.

“My husband and I put in a small patch in all our rental homes and had a few chooks and at one time, besides meat, we were fairly self-sufficient,” Mrs Stava said.

“I became very competent making all our bread, rolls, and started making a broad range of condiments and preserves.”

All the pots and containers for the sale are donated, making for some eye-catching buys.

John, a teacher, and Julie moved from Gippsland to northern Victoria and finally settled in Tocumwal in 1982 with daughter Ariel.

“We had a half-acre block with very little garden so established a generous vegetable patch, put in more than 30 fruit trees, a few olive trees and perennials,” Mrs Stava said.

“Fast forward — to two more daughters (Ingrid and Noni), school committees, volunteering, doing a TAFE tourism course to add to my Bachelor of Science social work degree, then my children finishing school and heading off to university — and all the time my collection of pot plants and cuttings evolved.”

In 2018, Mrs Stava saw an opportunity to use her passion for plants for a good cause.

Tocumwal op-shops, Hunters Haven and the Community Op-shop, had decided to combine forces to host their first Cancer Council Biggest Morning Tea fundraiser.

“I approached them and asked if I could have a plant trading table out front on the footpath ... and it has just grown over the years with 2022 being the fifth year the event’s been held. I’m so pleased it’s taken off,” Mrs Stava said.

Even during COVID-19 lockdowns, Mrs Stava managed to sell plants for the fundraiser and has gone on to put her green thumbs to work for other local causes and at open gardens.

She expects this year’s Tocumwal Combined Op-Shop Biggest Morning Tea to be even bigger and better.

It will be held on Thursday, May 26, from 10am to 1 pm at the Tocumwal Memorial Hall.

Op-shop volunteers will decorate the hall and provide a range of refreshments.

There will also be entertainment, door prizes, continuous raffles and — of course — a plant trading table featuring second-hand donated pots and containers, produce and citrus butters.

The cost is $10 with all funds raised going towards the Cancer Council’s programs.

Julie Stava’s neighbour Anne Dale previewing a few of plants for the 2022 Biggest Morning Tea.
Last year’s plant trading table.