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.