The Hope Community Garden was initiated in 2005 with Federal funding through Skills Victoria. It was funded to create opportunities for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) clients to enrol in a Certificate 1 in Vocational Training, as a pathway to employment. Under the umbrella of a simulated workplace, trainers were employed to deliver vocational training and develop the garden with student involvement.
Over the years, the garden has developed into a community setting, with several members of the Geelong Ethnic Communities Council establishing plots to reflect their culture and beliefs, including the Wadawurrung and Maori communities. Participants in the local Men’s Shed and Diversitat programs such as The Base (formerly called You-Turn), Green Corps, Diversitat Youth and Work For The Dole, have all contributed to the garden with their skills, such as landscaping, building seats and tables and general maintenance.
The Hope Community Garden offers something for anyone who walks through the gate, whether it is an opportunity to grow food, to come and pick something from the sharing communal area of the garden, or to simply wander through the garden, enjoy being outdoors and perhaps have a chat to practise some conversation in English.
The Hope Community Garden is an important facility for the local community, a safe area that has given a lot of displaced people a sense of ownership, empowerment and an opportunity to bond with others. Skills can be learned, or built on and there is always something to be done, from constructing garden beds or seating, clearing away weeds, sowing seeds, or harvesting the first crop of produce for the season.
And for those that do not have their own plot, to be able to stand back at the end of the day and admire a great job done provides an immediate sense of achievement and satisfaction.