Reaping a harvest from homelessness
19 September 2019
It was a volunteer with one of the Salvos residential crisis centres in Melbourne, Victoria (where those facing homelessness are given somewhere safe to stay) who first had the vision to create a healthy and therapeutic garden to help support those engaged with the service.
The service accommodates five families and eight people on-site and manages residents in another 17 community properties. The residents are provided with intensive case management and support to address their complex needs, such as family violence counselling, financial counselling, legal support and much more.
The large garden space has taken two years to develop, and truly is a ‘community garden’ with various groups and volunteers working together, including a ‘Work for the Dole’ partnership developed with Salvation Army Employment Plus to construct the space.
The garden features fruit trees, vegetable beds and artwork, as well as a barbecue area, a gazebo and seating among the greenery. Even the six friendly chickens housed in the new garden serve a greater purpose; not only providing eggs, but delighting children who have often lost everything to homelessness – including their family pets.
Service manager Leanne says that for many who have lost any sense of belonging and are suffering loneliness and isolation, “Our community garden strives to provide our residents, both past and present with a much needed sense of community and belonging.”