Residents at one of the largest social and affordable housing developments in the City of Knox, Victoria are excited to be part of a local community initiative which involves developing and maintaining a community vegetable garden. The community garden was officially launched by Hon Wendy Lovell, Minister for Housing today at a community meet and greet event.
Located in Ferntree Gully, this 79 unit development is funded by the Australian and Victorian Government, delivered by the Victorian Government and built and managed by Community Housing Ltd (CHL), one of the leading not-for-profit affordable housing providers in the country.
According to Steve Bevington, Managing Director of CHL, “one of the keys to the organisation’s ongoing success has been its tenant engagement and participation strategy. This strategy encourages our local residents to form groups and work towards a community goal. It is also an effort to increase a local sense of community and reduce the isolation felt by many residents including senior citizens who live alone. The community garden has raised beds specifically designed for people with limited mobility”.
“Activities such as gardening provide the opportunity for residents to socialise, share knowledge and also grow cost-effective vegetables that can be enjoyed by everyone. It’s delightful to see like minded residents coming together to donate their time and lend a hand for a common cause and building local connections”, says Mr. Bevington.
CHL believes in establishing working relationships with local service organisations to engage residents in local community activities and in this case has linked in with Mountain District Learning Centre (MLDC) who share CHL’s vision of building stronger and sustainable communities.
According to Bronte Schofield, Community Development & HACC Coordinator at MLDC, “we have enjoyed working with the residents and it has been pleasing to see them taking pleasure in becoming actively involved, both in the garden and in their local community and many have voiced interest in future projects. We hope to continue working with CHL to maintain a collaborative working partnership, to ensure our organisation supports residents to actively maintain their independence and sense of social inclusion.”
CHL and MLDC have jointly contributed to a small start up fund for the gardening activity which assisted in purchasing tools, plants and other gardening equipment. “The partnership with MLDC has been very positive and their volunteers have been a great support to our residents. They have been instrumental in bringing this project to life and liaising with residents to develop activities aimed at enhancing community connections”, says Brett Wake, CHL State Manager for Victoria and Tasmania.
Lindy Cooke is one of the proud residents and an active member of the Tenant Garden group. Although a stroke in 2008 changed her life, her disability has not lessened her contribution to this community initiative. “I joined the CHL Ferntree Gully Community Garden, not knowing what to expect, but have been pleasantly surprised! I am part of a group of caring, friendly garden enthusiasts. We all share a common interest in gardening and being the caretakers of our community vegetable garden is a wonderful role. Everyone jumps in to help when I encounter difficulties. It’s a beautiful village”, she says.
“Our watering roster gives me a chance to visit the garden early in the morning & later in the afternoon. I enjoy the peace and solitude of the garden at these times, even with the presence of our scarecrow”, she adds.
MDLC’s objective is to encourage and support residents to initiate ideas and undertake to achieve goals themselves, with assistance from MDLC when and if required. “Ultimately, the aim is for the MLDC coordinators to step back and the residents will manage the garden themselves, sharing the produce and maybe establishing a market garden arrangement with neighbouring residents and visitors,” says Bronte Schofield.
Community Housing Limited (CHL) is a national and international provider of affordable housing. Its mission is ‘to provide affordable and sustainable housing for all’. CHL is a registered Housing organisation in Victoria and Queensland a growth provider in NSW, Tasmania, WA and SA. Its international operations are located in Timor Leste, Chile, and India. Winner of various Industry Awards including HIA and United Nations Association of Australia and CHL has over 4000 properties under its management.
Mountain District Learning Centre (MDLC) is a not-for-profit community owned and run Adult Learning Centre governed by an elected Board of Directors, committed to the ideals of equity and access; connecting and strengthening community in the Mountain District. MDLC has been offering education and social opportunities and support to the community since 1974 when it was established as a women’s co-operative.
For more information on CHL, contact:
Coordinator – Marketing and Communications
t 03 9856 0021 m 0430 555 241