Glen church offers free washing machine to bone-dry farmers

GENEROUS HELP: Pastor Graeme Bell said the Oasis church has set up a washing machine for use by farmers who are struggling with a lack of water. Picture: Andrew Messenger.
GENEROUS HELP: Pastor Graeme Bell said the Oasis church has set up a washing machine for use by farmers who are struggling with a lack of water. Picture: Andrew Messenger.

A Glen Innes church is offering free laundry services for farmers struggling with water shortages in the worst drought in living memory.

Oasis church recently purchased a washing machine, set up outside its Grey street address, which they have been offering free, first to church-goers.

But Pastor Graeme Bell said some farmers have got a fair bit of work out of it over the last few weeks.

He said it was the other side of the coin of the spiritual goals of the religious institution, which boasts about 50-60 parishioners.

"We want to be of benefit to people - physically as well as spiritually, if that makes sense," he said.

"So teaching people skills for life, supporting people in hard times, just being a community really."

That's left some farmers struggling for enough water for the basics, with many paying to cart for household use.

Farmer Julie Teal said the drought has forced her to miss showers and switch off the washing machine at home, saying she was worried conditions had got as bad as they had.

"We've got water to shower and drink but I can't use that water to clean clothes because I use it for the shower and to drink!

"There's only so much water (available) given the drought."

The church has also set up a community garden plot for church members. Around 20 gardeners did their best to grow vegetables through a frozen Glen Innes winter, and the church is hoping more will join in with moderating temperatures.

"The idea is that we teach families to grow vegetables and/or kids," said Pastor Graeme Bell.

"They harvest what they produce and then they bring other stuff to cook a meal - and also teach people how to cook wholesome meals as well, then they share a meal together."

This Saturday the church is holding a Spring Fair from 9-2 to raise money to fund the humanitarian aid organisation Samaritan's Purse.

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