In Melbourne during the lockdown of winter 2021, Garden Juju Collective were offered a role in the establishment of what was to become Oakhill Food Justice Farm in Preston, Victoria.
Our brief was twofold: Firstly, create and carry out a community co-design process for Oakhill. What was it to become? We worked with RMIT university and TAFE students to engage local council, schools, neighbourhood centres. community support organisations, community gardens, businesses, families and community members. Garden Juju’s sense of place, visioning & design activities were adapted online and at a large scale. Design ideas and options were recorded and helped shape Oakhill concept plans.
Secondly, we were to help establish the actual site. This involved repairs to the vandalised long-uninhabited old vicarage building, conversion of the shed, clearing of weeds and overgrown vegetation, pruning, mulching and establishing garden beds, creation of teaching and co-working spaces and finally working out what to do with the large car park that also formed part of the project.
Slowly, small step by small step, students, volunteers and contractors started making the place feel positive, healthy and hopeful again.