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Our story begins in 1998 with Coll Link (an Inter church funded project, linking people living in Collingwood) and their two 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 at the time, 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. 

The journey and conversations with Government has now led in July 2022 to Cultivating Community managing as a contract with Homes Victoria over 21 Community Gardens and our reputation over these years has increased our connections across Victorian communities with cooking, baking, gardening and a variety of food related community initiatives with our structure building from a small PBI and non-profit to an accredited social enterprise and medium non-profit organisation.  

A variety of team members, board members and volunteers have come and gone during our first 25 years and the organisation has innovated and developed in response o its community and the eco system that we operate in.


How did we begin....


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.

Became Accredited Social Enterprise launching Hortus and High Rise

Commenced our WISE Pathway with Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Launched our ESG for Corporates Packages

Took on management of Burwood Rooftop Farm 

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