Our story begins with Coll Link (an Inter church funded project, linking people living in Collingwood) and their two passionate employees, Gail Bailey and Basil Natoli, who worked to connect the Collingwood community through arts and gardening activities. Mainly supporting the pop up gardens created by the tenants of the Collingwood Public Housing Estate, Basil was astounded by the enthusiasm and joy these spaces bought to the community, and so his focus turned to securing ongoing state government funding for community gardens on public housing estates.
Basil's tireless and tenacious lobbying led to the successful development of a long-term plan for public housing community gardens and recognition of the importance of gardening for people living in high-rise public housing estates. In 2000 Basil commenced as the first Community Garden Project Manager with the Department of Human Services (DHS).
During this time a group of local, urban agriculture enthusiasts and volunteers also began to meet regularly to discuss community gardening and urban food initiatives and through links with Basil formally took on the name Cultivating Community. With funding from DHS, Cultivating Community advertised its first paid position working to support gardeners on a handful of public housing estates and to teach kids to create summer gardens in their own homes. Thanks to this role opening, another Cultivating Community legend was found. Peta Christensen was employed in 2000 and to this day continues to strengthen community through leading our Food Systems team.
Laying foundations for healthy communities
Hired our very first paid staff member with DHS funding Project Worker for Summer Garden Project, Collingwood College Kitchen Garden and Public Housing Community Garden
Became the largest community garden organisation in Australia
Our staff grew to five
Maribyrnong Detention Centre Gardening Program
Employed 15 public housing tenants for landscape/ gardening
Attended 'New Shoots' textile exhibition where our banner was made
Produced the 'Good Practice Guide for Community Gardens'
Hosted 250 people at the Edible Classroom Conference
Our Kitchen Garden
Workers in three schools.
Partner with HTAV run a 12 week Community and Therapeutic Gardening Course for a 2nd year
Richmond garden part of Grow! Eat! Save the World! Fringe Festival.
Won VicHealth Community Cultural Development award.
Growers and Eaters forum with Slow Food Melbourne.
Yarra Urban Harvest Swap commenced.
Winner of Yarra’s Sustainability Awards in the Community Action category.
11 schools in our school food garden program
Compost Champions project at Collingwood PHE Compost
Crew project for residents and the establishment of a large scale compost hub at the Collingwood Children’s Farm in Abbotsford.
‘From the Ground Up: A Community Food Directory and Guide to Growing Community Food Projects in the City of Yarra’ published.
Dandenong Urban Farm and Education Centre
Healthy Parents, Healthy Communities Project, Dandenong
Compost Cyclers an enterprise that offers residents and businesses a user-pays bicycle pickup service to process food
Partnered with STREAT to provide access to horticultural expertise for training disadvantaged young people.
Co Health Williamstown
Celebrated 20 years of CC with over 100 gardeners, past and current staff and board and stakeholders
Inaugural Community Gardeners bush camp.
Completed food garden at Collingwood Neighbourhood House.
Partnered with Stephanie Alexander to establish a school food garden and cooking program at Collingwood College, the now iconic Collingwood College Kitchen Garden
DHS increased contract to 17 Public Housing Community Gardens.
Commenced the Atherton Garden Fruit and Veg market in Fitzroy with BSL, a volunteer-run fresh food market bringing affordable fresh produce close to public housing estates.
Highett St Community Garden featured on ‘Vasilli’s Garden’
20 Public Housing Community Gardens
4th annual City Farms and Community Gardens Conference: ‘Cities Feeding People – Grow it Where you Live’
Involved in Neighbourhood renewal program for Seymour and West Heidelberg.
Edible Classroom program in seven schools
CC presents at Melb West Water forum on water wise gardening.
Gardens Impacted by multiple years of drought.
Compost Mates project, linking community and school gardens with Fitzroy cafes and restaurants.
Community Garden Bike tour.
Partnered with City of Yarra and Metropolitan Waste Management Group to launched the Food Know How project in April 2013.
Putting Down Roots project for Asylum Seekers with Red Cross and CERES)
Sunnyfields Community Garden in Northcote (in partnership with Northcote Baptist Church
Establishment of a community garden at Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre.
Love Food, Hate Waste training manual written
Darebin School Gardens project feasibility study
Guided the reactivation of the Floyd Lodge Community Garden.
Spotswood Primary School 'Pick my Project Grant' with 3000acres to create and carry out an edible garden design.
RACV Grant funded 'Strong Shoots - Growing Healthy & Cohesive Communities through Food Gardening at School'.
Collaborated with Save the Children so children at Sacred Heart Primary have access to green play space
Launched Carlton Kitchen Library.
Granted funding by DHS for 14 Public Housing Community Gardens
Our staff grew to two team members
Developed ‘The Green Map’, a resource showing all the community gardens and school garden projects across Melbourne
Established a seed bank at Highett St Community Gardens: providing gardeners with a sustainable supply of seeds year-round and surplus seed to be sent to East Timor.
Highett St Community Garden featured on Gardening Australia.
Gardeners feature in book ‘Celebration: the People,
Plants and Recipes of our Community Gardens’
Gardens for Veterans project.
Partnered with HTAV to run a 12 week Community and Therapeutic Gardening Course.
Continued involvement in Kitchen Gardens in Schools
Course at Melbourne Uni
Local Food project with City of Yarra commences.
Community Fresh Food Markets customer base of 120
The Composters’ Composium
VicUrban Docklands community garden project
Compost Champions project
City of Yarra Community Composting Centre partnership
City of Yarra Neighbourhood Composting Centre project
Awarded DGR status
The Fitzroy (Atherton Gardens) Community Kitchen project
Food Know How winner of a United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day award in Sustainability Education
Footscray FOODpath: creating a pathway to food security, health and nutrition, skill development, community connection, and social inclusion
Qualified as a Good Food Organisation
LMCF Funded Community Food Centre Expansion Project and review of School Food Garden program
Deakin Uni studied the social impacts of Public Housing Gardens
Partnered with Housing Choices (St John’s Place & La Trobe Close) to reinvigorate edible garden spaces
Joined Moving Feast, a collection of social enterprises working on pandemic food response that creates justice, sustainability and resilience.
Launched Living Food Box program in City of Melbourne.
7, 858 Food Relief packs distributed to those experiencing food insecurity during COVID19.
After School Cooking goes digital - with ingredient packs delivered and online cook along classes.