Community Gardens unpacked at the Sustainable Food Leaders Forum 6 March, 2019

We had 20 passionate community members join us for a great evening of discussion and networking at the Community Garden themed Sustainable Food Leaders Forum on Wednesday 6 March, 2019

The forum was an opportunity to have groups discuss and share their different approach and experiences. We had a good cross section of current community garden members, those looking to start a community garden, and organisations supporting or looking to support / partner with a community garden. There were representatives from:

Sylvester Hive, Northcote Library Food Garden, All Nations Kitchen Garden, East Reservoir Community Garden, Newton Street Community Garden at the East Preston Community Centre, Span Community Garden,  Darebin Information Volunteer Resource Service (DIVRS), Melbourne Food Hub, Transition Darebin, Incredible Edible Eltham.

Some of the key themes which emerged from the discussions were:

  • There was a strong sense that Community Gardens provided multiple benefits including fostering community connections and engagement, a source of healthy nutritious food, support for health and mental and physical well-being, a hub for related activities such as workshops, celebrations etc.
  • Maintaining volunteer engagement and support was a common issue for many gardens – community gardens who had support from a funded organisation or someone paid to support the garden (even for a fixed period of time) felt that this contributed significantly to their viability and success
  • Managing diverse members with different approaches and abilities was also a challenge
  • At the same time, many gardens wanted to attract more members and were interested in diversifying their membership base
  • Additional challenges for new and emerging gardens included navigating the complex process of getting approval for a site, establishing a volunteer base and determining the right governance model.
  • Holding more events and workshops, increasing gardening and composting capacity and connecting with more of the community were common opportunities identified.

3000acres also gave a presentation on the outcomes of their Community Garden Capacity Building project, which included suggestions for how to attract and retain garden members.

Forum participants were introduced to the new Darebin Grants Model which is being launched in March 2019. The new model includes an increased funding pool, greater flexibility, more options and clarity around priorities and alignment with the council plan.

Link to the presentations by Darebin City Council and 3000acres are provided below

3000acres presentation Darebin Sustainable Food Leaders Forum March 2019

Darebin Council Presentation Sustainable Food Leaders Forum March 2019

For more information on Community Gardens or future Sustainable Food Leaders Forums, contact Lee Tozzi, Sustainable Food Officer on lee.tozzi@darebin.vic.gov.au