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
Cultivating partnership


Hired our very first paid staff member as DHS funds Project Worker for Summer Garden Project, Collingwood College Kitchen Garden and Public Housing Community Garden support


Held inaugural Community Gardeners weekend bush camp

Celebrated Harvest Festival on Collingwood Estate

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


·         Became the largest community garden organisation in Australia

Our staff grew to five team members

Maribyrnong Detention Centre Gardening Program

Employed 15 public housing tenants for landscape/gardening

Attended 'New Shoots' textile exhibition where our banner was made

Dirty Hands, Happy Hearts conference

·         Produced the 'Good Practice Guide for Community Gardens'


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.


DHS increased contract to 17 Public Housing Community Gardens.

Staff team of six

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’


Staff team of eight.

Highett St Community Garden part of Open Garden Scheme

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.


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


Now supporting 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.

Our Edible Classroom program in seven schools


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.

Plenty Valley Community Health Project


Yarra Urban Harvest Swap commenced.


Staff team of 13.

Continued involvement in Kitchen Gardens in Schools Course at Melbourne Uni

Local Food project with City of Yarra commences.

Lennoxt st garden part of Australia’s Open Garden Scheme.

CCs Community Fresh Food Markets has customer base of 120


DHS fund garden improvement projects.

Growers and Eaters forum with Slow Food Melbourne

Highett st gardeners got creative and designed unique art work depicting their favourite plants- now signage in the garden.

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 local cafes and restaurants in Fitzroy.

1st Community Garden Bike tour.


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


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.


in partnership with the City of Yarra and the Victorian Government’s Metropolitan Waste Management Group (Metro Waste) we formally launched the new Food Know How project in April 2013.

Putting Down Roots project for Asylum Seekers (in partnership with Red Cross and CERES)

Sunnyfields Community Garden in Northcote (in partnership with Northcote Baptist Church and the local community).


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


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


establishment of a community garden at Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre.

In-Vessel Composting Research

Darebin School Gardens project

Love Food, Hate Waste training manual written

Darebin School Gardens project feasibility study


Qualified as a Good Food Organisation

Commenced LMCF Fund Community Food Centre Expansion Project

Undertook LMCF Fund 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

Darebin City Council Community Gardens


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


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.

Welcomed Park Hill Primary School back to our program

RACV Community Foundation Grant funded our 'Strong

Shoots - Growing Healthy & Cohesive Communities through Food Gardening at School' project were we worked with three Primary Schools, a local kindergarten and a community high school located near public housing.

Collaborated with Cubbies Adventure Playground

(Save the Children) so children at Sacred Heart Primary School have access to green play space

Launched Melbourne's first Kitchen Equipment Library

on the Carlton Public Housing Estate through

City of Melbourne Social Innovation grant.

Launched High Rise Community Baking Group Fitzroy.

After School Cooking Fitzroy celebrated five years cooking with kids!