In an effort to increase community garden participation and local food security during the COVID-19 pandemic, enliven Victoria are proud to have launched South East Melbourne’s first Community Garden Directory.
Enliven recognises the significant mental, physical, social, and environmental benefits of community gardening, and the importance of these community spaces in COVID-19 recovery and climate change mitigation. In response to this, enliven co-designed the Food from Home social marketing campaign to promote edible gardening and its climate and health co-benefits to communities living in the City of Greater Dandenong, City of Casey, and Cardinia Shire.
Partnerships and community conversations developed through Food from Home revealed significant gaps in accessing current and centralised information about local community gardens. As a result, enliven developed the online Community Garden Directory which provides detailed listings, interactive maps, and a printable PDF of over fifteen community gardens across Melbourne’s South East.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many local community gardens have experienced a decline in volunteering and participation rates due to their inability to operate during lockdowns. It is hoped that this directory will increase awareness, access, and motivation to engage in community gardening across the catchment once lockdowns are lifted.
Through Food from Home , over 20 beginner-friendly resources and seasonal recipes have been developed and over 3,000 packets of free vegetable seeds have been distributed through nine local library services. The campaign has already reached over 80,000 community members on social media and an impact evaluation is currently underway, with early results showing promising impact in positively shifting attitudes, behaviours and social norms that are supportive of edible gardening.
The Food from Home campaign and positive community response to the directory has shown us that local community members are engaged and enthusiastic about sustainability issues and growing fresh food, however, are often faced with barriers relating to knowledge, information, and support. Complimentary projects to strengthen and support local edible gardening efforts are being implemented, such as the development of translated resources, community gardening workshops, the establishment of local seed libraries, and a scale-up of the ‘Grow Together ’ food security project.