Community Gardens Consultation Update: CoM Considering Final Report

Updated 13th October 2022:

The Collingwood Children’s Farm Committee of Management has received the CCF Community Gardens Redevelopment (CCFCGR) Consultation Project final report.

The Project, commissioned by the Collingwood Children’s Farm CoM, commenced in May 2022 and was completed in August 2022, with the final report delivered to the CoM in late September.

The Purpose of the consultation was to engage a wide range of the CCF community members (children, volunteers, community organisations, collaborating partner organisations, disability services, previous CCF Community Gardeners) to “gather ideas to understand the needs of the community to contribute to the design of a rejuvenated, productive community garden to benefit all”.

Community members engaged in the consultation have long standing and/or regular contact with the Farm.
The participants were diverse in age, role, abilities, connection to the Farm and included staff, volunteers, students, people with disability, community groups, partner organisations, members, visitors and previous CCF Community Gardeners.

Twelve separate consultation sessions were held, where 75 individuals participated and provided their ideas during
90-minute sessions. Participants were then invited to revisit their ideas and those of others in a Gallery of all original work created during the consultations. Some 47 people from Round 1 participated in Round 2.

The Committee of Management will now consider the findings of the report, which will be used to brief landscape architects on the practical and aesthetic requirements of the new Community Gardens area within the context of the broader Farm’s operations.

Once the report has been formally adopted by the committee, the outcomes and findings of the report will be released shortly.

The CoM would like to sincerely thank everyone who gave their time, energy and creativity to the consultation process. The passion shown for this project and the Farm as a whole is a testament to the importance of the Farm and its future to our whole community.

We look forward to rejuvenating the space to provide a welcoming, enjoyable, stimulating, green urban space for children, their families and people facing disadvantage.

Let’s hear from some of our supporters 

The Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Narrap Unit supports the Collingwood Children’s Farm to improve the safety, inclusivity and accessibility of the Community Gardens alongside Birrarung. 

Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Narrap Unit 

I’m a volunteer in many of the Farms gardens. I work in the Community Plots, the Market Garden, the Birrarung Environmental Regeneration project and the Kitchen Garden at No 18.  I see the engagement of people with varying abilities and it has filled me with joy to see the meaningful activities increasingly on offer…..I’m proud to support the CCF Community Garden Project. On the basis of what this amazing staff has achieved in such a short time, I have no doubt that it will be a great improvement.  

M. Foster, farm member and volunteer 

As a teacher who works with young people with intellectual disabilities, I have observed first-hand the benefit of the programs at the farm. The community gardens have always been off limits due to safety issues. We look forward to being able to participate in that space once safety and accessibility issues have been addressed. A real community garden for the entire community. 

P. Alexander, community member 

As a teacher and parent, over the past decade, I have had the opportunity to actively participate in many farm programs. Importantly, my students with disability have gained essential work experience, which is necessary to support students with disability in gaining skills to access employment.….. I am excited that the community garden, a space which has previously been inaccessible, could now be open to students with disability. Through the process of upgrading these gardens, opportunities exist to change lives. This can be achieved by creating opportunities for young people with disability to build their employment capacity.

T. Doolan, community member 

From our collaboration and all our interactions with the Farm team, we have no doubt whatsoever that the proposal to reimagine the community gardens is driven by a commitment to equity and inclusion…. Ensuring the Community Garden on this public land is used safely, fairly and productively for the benefit of gardeners of the community. We look forward to happy times ahead in the Farm. We would love to collaborate with children and families to make more books in the veggie gardens.  

A. Dollard, Director, Kid’s Own Publishing 

Draft illustrative drawing of the community gardens  

Location map 



The Collingwood Children’s Farm is OPEN!  We are open every day of the year, except Christmas Day, from 9:30am – 3pm.  

The first stage of the works in the former community gardens space, which is on your left as you enter the farm, are complete. The space represents 3% of the Farm’s footprint, and any works that will occur in that space do not impact the rest of the Farm’s operations – or your enjoyment! 

Come and pat the goats, cuddle a guinea pig, wander through the orchard and grab a coffee in the company of our resident chickens and peacocks.  

Absolutely not, it is not ours to sell – the Collingwood Children’s Farm is situated on Crown Land, which is regulated by the Victorian State Government.  

This is Crown Land, not owned by the committee of management, nor the Farm employees, and nor the community gardeners. 

The Community Garden will be rebuilt as a Community Garden.  

While Jacob, our very handsome pig, would be thrilled to be centre of attention at the Farm, he shares the spotlight with many farm animal friends. 

The Farm is home to our friendly goats, the very loud and bossy flock of sheep, sweet sleepy cows, our wonderful horses, a jazzy bunch of chickens, and some dashing ducks. We also have a few resident peacocks, a couple of cheeky cats, and of course our very cuddly guinea pigs. 

We are also home to local wildlife, from blue tongue lizards to colourful birds, and other reptiles. 

Come down and say hello yourself.  

Events are not our primary purpose, however we are fortunate to be able to share the Farm for these purposes, so we can reinvest the venue fee back into the Farm. 

The profits from the food we grow in our market garden and sell at our market stall are also reinvested in the Farm.  

The Collingwood Children’s Farm is a non-profit community organisation. This means, whatever income we generate is invested back into the farm. Wedding fees and entry costs help us care for our animals, conserve our heritage farmland, and fund inclusive programs to support those experiencing adversity. 

The Farm is run by a General Manager, employees including horticulture and farming specialists, and a group of dedicated volunteers.  

The Farm is governed by a Committee of Management (CoM), made up of elected volunteers with specific skills and experience. CoMs are a way Crown Land can be managed on behalf of the Government to benefit the community. 
Importantly: The Farm is a Public Benevolent Institution, which means it’s a charity whose main purpose and obligation is to help vulnerable members of our community and support those experiencing adversity. 

Entry fees paid by visitors (along with revenues generated through Farm Membership, weddings, birthday parties and events, education, corporate programs and other trade), directly fund the Farm’s no-cost community programs and no-cost community access visits for allied organisations. 

The Farm’s no-cost community programs engage children, young people and adults that experience adversity and barriers to inclusion with a program of meaningful work and community connection.  The Farm is proud to partner with multiple specialist schools (both special development schools and community schools), adult support services and community organisations in this work.   

The Farm’s community programs are as varied as they are unique, and they see participants involved in a range of activities across the property.  On any given day you can expect to see school groups hard at work completing farm chores, community members helping in the market garden and a busy hub of people helping to build, fix and maintain anything and everything at our workshop and in our community woodwork space, the Big Green Shed.   

As well as ongoing programs, the Farm frequently supports community organisations, specialist schools and Council-run services with no cost Farm access.  It is a privilege to manage this land on behalf of all Victorians and to share the therapeutic benefits of time spent in nature and with animals.   

Each time you pay to visit the Farm, become a Farm Member, book a wedding, birthday party or event, purchase our Farm produce or support the Farm with your custom in other ways, you can be assured that your choice directly funds the Farm’s social mission and its ability to deliver these programs and experiences at no cost.   

We couldn’t do it without you.   

The community garden site will always be a community garden.  

What form the new community garden takes will be informed by the community during consultations.  Whatever form they take, the gardens will be accessible, inclusive and safe for the whole community, not just a select few.  

The community garden is and always has been an integral part of Collingwood Children’s Farm.   

Unfortunately, as the site became increasingly degraded over the years, access was restricted to allotment holders before ultimately, OHS reasons caused the site to be closed.   

We’re incredibly excited to see the rejuvenated garden reopen and ready to engage the entire community; a space for people from all walks of life to come together and grow.  We can’t wait to see the community garden space resume its place at the heart of Collingwood Children’s Farm.   

Collingwood Children’s Farm has never been a place for ‘monoculture agriculture’ or narrow objectives.  Instead, it uses different zones to achieve different objectives.  Healthy pastureland allows us to keep a varied and sustainable mix of livestock while market gardens, orchards, an apiary and cut flower gardens means that we can supply visitors and locals with high quality, low food-mile produce.  Workshop facilities increase self-reliance while gardens and picnic facilities create a space that welcomes and engages visitors.  The Farm looks at all these zones and builds opportunities for community programs, education and public experience around them – their diversity creates near endless possibilities.   

The Collingwood Children’s Farm Committee of Management are the DELWP-appointed Land Managers of Crown Land reserve known as Collingwood Children’s Farm, an area that encompasses the CCF community garden site.   

Community gardeners were invited to send a list of items that they would like collected from the plots. We wrote to, called, and engaged interpreters to ensure all former gardeners were aware of the process.  
The horticulture contractors catalogued, photographed and collected all items that were present – identified by the gardeners or not. Machinery was only used to clear plots that had been through this process. 
Gardeners were invited to collect their belongings from 28 February. 

All wildlife in the site was allowed the space to move off the site or relocated where necessary. To ensure the safety of the wildlife, each plot was examined by hand for evidence of animals. A snake handler was called to remove a tiger snake from the gardens, and blue tongues and skinks were given space to move off when disturbed.  
Only after every plot was reviewed was the machinery permitted onto site.  To ensure the safety of any remaining animals and workers, a spotter was on look out when machinery was in use. 
Two wildlife protection organisations contacted the site to ensure all wildlife was protected during the works. Both organisations confirmed that the process used by the horticultural contractors was best practice. 

Whilst the Greek and Turkish communities were instrumental in helping develop the community gardens on Crown Land, the gardens were set up by a local councillor in conjunction with the Farm. 
The intention of the community gardens was to provide access to gardens on public land for vulnerable communities who do not have access to their own gardens. We look forward to returning the gardens back to a place that delivers on our mission: to support children and the disadvantaged.   

It is true that some previous gardeners hold concession cards, but very many do not.

While we want to make sure the rejuvenated community gardens serve and are accessible to the entire community, access and use by vulnerable cohorts will be prioritised, in line with our Mission. 

The community gardens are on Crown Land. The land is not owned by the Farm or the community gardeners, or the people of Yarra City Council area, it is owned by the people of Victoria.  
Whilst some gardeners have passed sites down through their families over its 40-year history, it is not appropriate for this to continue. The expectation of the broader community is that public land is accessible and available to the whole community, and should not be exclusive in any way.  

While some families have enjoyed the privilege of holding a plot for a very long time, it is now appropriate to reconsider models of tenure and access as the Gardens are rebuilt.  

The community gardens are on Crown Land, or public land. The land is not owned by the Farm or the community gardeners, or the people of the City of Yarra , it is owned by the people of Victoria. 
The land is not administered by the Yarra City Council, therefore all Victorians should have access to the community gardens. The Farm has a wide catchment area, with visitors regularly coming from across Melbourne, Victoria and further to visit the Farm. Within a 5 km radius of the Farm are seven other municipalities in addition to Yarra.

The Farm is a Public Benevolent Institution (PBI), which means it’s a charity whose main purpose and obligation is to help vulnerable members of our community.  

The community gardens are part of the Collingwood Children’s Farm, and therefore must meet the Farm’s obligations as a PBI.  

The Farm are responsible for the land, and the management of that land, including adhering to OHS laws. 

The CCF is required to manage the community gardens as part of the broader obligations of the Farm being on Crown Land.  

As stated above, the Farm is a Public Benevolent Institution (PBI), which means it’s a charity whose main purpose and obligation is to help vulnerable members of our community. 

Designating the whole site for allotment style gardening does not suit community expectations of the use of public land, the obligations of a PBI or the evolution of Community Gardening in Australia. 

Horticulture contractors worked to minimise the impact on the soil while maintaining compliance with the OHS Act 2004. 

Clearance works were completed by hand where safe and practical to do so and with the assistance of light machinery where it was not.  With the site now cleared, erosion caused by wind has been mitigated by the use of a sprinkler system.  To further mitigate erosion and weed potential while the ground lies fallow, CCF will engage contractors to sow an interim cover crop; a crop that at the end of its life will be returned to the soil as green manure. 

It is interesting to note that even without these mitigation processes in place, it is estimated that mineral mass lost to wind is less than 1 cubic metre over the course of one month across the entire 2800 square metre site.   

The Farm has always been concerned with the safety of any community member visiting the farm. And safety requirements have changed significantly over the last 40 years. 

The Farm has addressed safety concerns throughout the Farm and will continue to do so.  In the last few years, the Farm has addressed asbestos concerns, arborist concerns, concerns around the Shared Path that winds through the farm and implemented OHS reviews and HR systems to care for staff and visitors alike. 

The Farm had been trying to address safety concerns in the Community Garden prior to closure, but unfortunately it was too little too late.  

The Farm has applied for several heritage grants to save these buildings, which are such an important part of our local history.  

While we wait for support, the Farm will continue to maintain the buildings within our limited budget.  

I think our chickens would be surprised to hear this. Please come on down and meet our many feathered friends


Questions & Answers

Recently the Farm has had to temporarily close the CCF Community Gardens, this has raised many questions and some myths. Below we address the frequently asked questions. Will will also be providing updates via our newsletter and social media. Once re-built, the Community Gardens will be more inclusive, accessible and productive than ever before!

The community gardens were closed in July 2021 due to safety concerns.  
The paths throughout the community gardens are not compliant with DELWP and Crown Land requirements.  This land is not currently accessible or safe and the structures in the gardens have become hazardous.   

This area is particularly dangerous for children, elderly, or those with mobility challenges – all of which are regular users of the farm.   

WorkSafe inspected the gardens in December 2021 and established that there was a risk of serious injury to anyone working in the community gardens. 

WorkSafe have therefore ordered that remediation must occur by 15 March 2022. To meet this deadline, works must commence on 14 February 2022. 

Collingwood Children’s Farm asked for advice on the works and quotes from several independent contractors.  

CFF was advised that the work required to remediate the site to WorkSafe standards was extensive, and all works required the use of heavy machinery. 

CCF is not able to provide access lawfully until the safety works have been completed. 

The extent of work required on the gardens meant that working-bees and self-directed remediation would not be sufficient to meet WorkSafe’s requirements. Covid-19 restrictions also limited the opportunity for access to the gardens in 2021. 

No, the work required to remediate the site in July 2021 was just as extensive. The community gardens have a unique set of problems and issues which have accumulated over decades.  

Some of the safety issues identified by WorkSafe include uneven and slippery walkways; fencing barriers constructed from various materials that are in poor condition;  fences with sharp edges protruding into walk ways; overhead structures not adequately secured; rocks / blue stone used as garden edging that are loosely installed and poses trip hazards. 

Collingwood Children’s Farm did not have the funds available to remediate the community gardens to WorkSafe standards, a financial situation that was exacerbated by Covid-19 restrictions in 2020 and 2021.  

Remediation of the Community Gardens followed by community and stakeholder consultation for their redesign and rebuild. 

The community gardens is an allotment style community garden which was developed in 1979 when the CCF was founded. There are 70 plots on 3.5% of farmland. Of the 70 plots, 50-odd were used by 100-150 people.  

CCF has 15,000 visitors per month. School groups, community groups and our volunteer cohort are locked out of the community gardens and have been for several years.  

The opportunity to refresh the community gardens, and redesign them with the whole community in mind, has come from a need to ensure community safety. 

A process is being considered to address this.  
While some gardeners have taken advantage of previous invitations to retrieve belongings, we know there are others who have not yet done so. We would like to organise for remaining property to be retrieved as soon as possible. 

We are excited to continue consultations with the existing community gardeners and the wider community to ensure the gardens are truly a place for the whole community. 

Collingwood Children’s Farm has engaged a consultant who will ensure the whole community can contribute their ideas on the design of the new community gardens, including the current community gardeners. We hope that their passion for the space is carried over into helping with the design and refresh of the new community gardens. 

While our vision for the site is to make it a more accessible and open space with fewer individual lots, we want the current community gardeners to continue to play an active role. We want to provide a safe, productive space in which the current gardeners can share their expertise and passion for gardening with the whole community 

No. Once the safety works are completed the community gardens will be reopened for plot holders and the broader community to continue farming as they have for many years.   

One of the 70 plots is held by CCF’s Moving Feast partners who are a social enterprise, but that plot was never intended to be for commercial use. It will be used for educational purposes with vulnerable youth.   

No. This has never been proposed or discussed by the CCF. The farm is not CCF’s land to sell. 

Yes. The group has been represented by three delegates from the Digging In Gardener’s Steering Committee in discussions since July.   

This evolved into a DELWP-led mediation process involving DELWP, Steering Committee reps and CCF Management and Committee Members that has been occurring weekly since September.   

CCF is committed to ongoing consultation with the Gardeners and local community.  

The CCF sits on the lands of the Wurundjeri-Woiwurrung people.  It is a crown land reserve that comes under the jurisdiction of DELWP.   

CCF Inc. was a body set up by volunteer users of the farm that the State Government appointed to administer the farm with its Committee of Management in line with its Constitution.  

The community gardens have always sat on this crown land reserve.  

Updated 12th July 2022:

Community Gardens Consultation Update

The community’s passion for the Collingwood Children’s Farm and the future of the Community Gardens has shone through during community consultations which commenced in June.

So far more than 20 meetings have been held with the Farm’s many community groups and members, with more to follow in the weeks to come. By the end of the community consultations, meetings will have been held with First Nations custodians, early learning and schools, disability services, community groups, existing community gardeners, staff, and volunteers. 

Due to the diversity and varying needs of the Farm’s community members, sessions are conducted with small groups, to ensure everyone in attendance gets a say and that all community views are represented.

The Farm has been overwhelmed with the positivity and enthusiasm by people for being involved and would like to sincerely thank all members of our community who have expressed an interest in being involved in this important project.

A session for members and visitors will be held on Sunday 17 July from 2:00pm–3:30pm. The session will be capped at 20 participants, so if you would like to join us, please sign up here.

Once all the sessions have been held, all the ideas will be consolidated and synthesised and re-presented back to all of the groups consulted for final informal ‘voting’ before being used in the design brief for landscape architects/designers.

Having existed for more than 30 years, the Community Gardens are such an important part of the Farm. Through this consultation process, community will be at the heart of the design. We look forward to rejuvenating the space to provide a welcoming, enjoyable, stimulating, green urban space for children, their families and people facing disadvantage.

Updated 15th May 2022:

Community Consultations on the Re-design of Collingwood Children’s Farm Community Gardens

Collingwood Children’s Farm will shortly recommence consultation on the redesign and redevelopment of the Community Gardens site.

The consultation process will consider and balance the varying needs, interests and ideas from its broad range of community members.  The Farm has engaged Fiona Sharkie from Michelson Alexander to lead the consultations to ensure the voices of all community members are heard and represented.

Over 50 diverse groups have been defined as the Farm’s community, including Farm members and staff, schools, disability services, local community groups, former community gardeners, program partner organisations, First Nations custodians, local business, governments, and funding partners.

As articulated in the Farm’s Constitution and Mission, the Farm exists to provide a welcoming, stimulating, and enjoyable green space for children and families, with an emphasis on supporting children and people who are socially isolated, experience disadvantage through mental health, disability, and any form of marginalization in society.

The Farm is incredibly excited to hear from our community, and can’t wait to see the Community Gardens space resume its place at the heart of Collingwood Children’s Farm as a space for people from all walks of life to come together and grow.

Updated 3rd March 2022:

Update on the Collingwood Children’s Farm Community Gardens

The clearing works on the Collingwood Children’s Farm community gardens have been completed in order to meet the 15 March deadline set by WorkSafe.  
Initial works involved clearing pathways, brush-cutting overgrown grasses and any invasive weeds to allow the horticulture contractors to safely access and assess individual plots. The plots were then assessed individually for possible hazards, the presence and relocation of wildlife, and the cataloguing and collection of items belonging to the community gardeners. 

The site has been cleared, and mitigation strategies are in place to preserve the quality of the topsoil to ensure the site is in the best shape possible for the new community gardens.  


All wildlife on the site was allowed the space to move off the site or was relocated where necessary. To ensure the safety of wildlife, each plot was examined by hand for evidence of animals. A snake handler was called to relocate a tiger snake from the gardens, and blue tongues and skinks were given space to move off when disturbed.  

Only after every plot was reviewed was the machinery permitted onto site.  To ensure the safety of any remaining animals and workers, a spotter was on look out when machinery was in use. 

Two wildlife protection organisations contacted the site to ensure all wildlife was protected during the works. Both organisations confirmed that the process used by the horticultural contractors was best practice. 

Collection of items 

The Collingwood Children’s Farm committee of management reached out to the community gardeners via email and phone and asked them to identify items in the plots that they would like retrieved. Farm staff and contractors have done everything possible to accommodate requests while remaining compliant with the OHS Act 2004 and the Improvement Notice issued to the Farm by the independent WorkSafe authority. 

The horticultural contractors retrieved items including gardening equipment, plants, personal items and other hardware and set them out for collection by the gardeners. Photos were taken of each plot, and all items were catalogued, including noting whether items identified by the plot’s former gardener were present; if plant matter was living; or if items could not be retrieved due to OH&S purposes. 

Only once this comprehensive process was complete was machinery allowed to work on site. 

Collection of the items commenced on Monday 28 February. Upon collection, all gardeners received a receipt of items retrieved and a record of items that were unable to be retrieved. 

Preservation of the site 

The preservation of the topsoil in the community garden is a priority for the Farm. 

Prior to the introduction of heavy machinery, mulch was installed to mitigate compaction from work vehicles and other machinery entering the site. 

A dust mitigating spray system was installed on the site on 21 February, to inhibit the amount of topsoil removed by the wind. The Farm’s horticulture team will maintain the soil health of the site and prioritise weed management, until the construction of the new community gardens can commence. 

A cover crop will been sewn to lock carbon into the soil and protect the land while the consultation & design processes are underway.  


In light of community feedback, the community engagement strategy is currently being reviewed. We will provide an update on the next steps in the community engagement process shortly, in the meantime please sign up to be involved.

Updated 15th February 2022:


The much-loved Collingwood Children’s Farm Community Gardens will be redesigned with the new  gardens providing an accessible and safe space for everyone. 

General Manager of Collingwood Children’s Farm, Ms Conor Hickey acknowledged community concern  about the decision to recreate the gardens following a Worksafe notice late last year. 

“We understand some of the existing community gardeners are disappointed with this outcome; but these decisions have been led by the need to ensure community safety and that the site is accessible to  all,” Ms Hickey said.  

 WorkSafe issued a notice last year instructing the farm to remediate the existing gardens by 15 March  2022 as the land was not accessible or safe and the structures in the gardens had become hazardous. 

Work to remediate the gardens has begun – with horticultural contractors onsite to recover items that  plot holders have asked to be retrieved. Consultation on the design of the new gardens has also begun  and the farm encourages all members of the community – including plot holders – to get involved.

 Any inorganic and organic materials will be recycled where possible. The site will then be graded,  reinstating the existing and natural slope of the land and a safe working gradient will be created for  future works to be undertaken.

It is important to note that the works are restricted to the existing community gardens area of the Farm.  The rest of the farm will continue to operate and is open for visitors and community groups. 

“As the population and density of the area grows and becomes more diverse, it is vital that everyone  who wants to be involved in community gardening has a place to go and a community that will embrace  them,” Ms Hickey said. 

“So many people in our area don’t even have a balcony, let alone a backyard! We don’t want to be running decades long waiting lists for plots anymore, we want people to get involved now, especially – in line with our mission and purpose – children, people with disability, seniors, and those in our  community who are experiencing adversity.

“This is a community space, and we want it to be safe, accessible and inclusive for everyone in our  community. 

“This will still be a working farm, not a corporate space as suggested by some stakeholders. Following  the design of a new community garden with stakeholders input, we can’t wait to welcome the public to  visit us, experience a real working farm and get their hands dirty!” 

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said the Andrews Labor  Government had allocated $860,000 to the committee of management to redesign and rebuild the  gardens to be a safe and accessible place for everyone.  

“This is an opportunity to redesign the gardens with the whole community in mind and comes from a  need to ensure accessibility and community safety,” Minister D’Ambrosio said. 

All members of the community are invited to help design the new community gardens. To get involved in the consultations, register your interest at 

Updated 9th February 2022:


The Collingwood Children’s Farm community gardens will undergo the first large-scale investment and refresh since they were established more than 40 years ago. 
The design brief for the revitalised community gardens seeks to maximise the Farm’s core and original purpose:  To create a beautiful, productive food growing space that maximises safe access and participation at the site for children and vulnerable communities, in line with the Farm’s overarching aims. 
The Farm was established to drive social inclusion for children and disadvantaged persons. A wide range of programs operated by the Farm have been transformative in the lives of thousands of members of vulnerable communities, including at-risk youth, people with disability, seniors and women and children who have experienced family violence. 
As the designated land managers, the Collingwood Children’s Farm is committed to ensuring that children and disadvantaged people have full access to a rustic community working farm that provides diverse training programs, opportunities for therapeutic horticulture and a connection to the land in an inner city setting. 
The Farm is therefore committed to ensuring the community gardens are safe, accessible and inclusive; and are excited to begin consultations with the existing community gardeners and the wider community to ensure the gardens are truly a place for the whole community. 
The Farm’s decision to refresh the gardens has arisen from the need to ensure community safety by clearing the current community gardens which have been deemed unsafe by Worksafe.  
The Collingwood Children’s Farm understands that some of the community gardeners may be disappointed that WorkSafe has issued a notice resulting in the clearance of the existing gardens, however we hope that their passion for the space is carried over into helping with the design and refresh of the new community gardens through the consultation process. 
A draft design has been produced to illustrate what a refreshed community gardens could look like. The final design will be informed by community consultation and will be a welcoming space for people of all abilities, including children, to garden communally. 
The refreshed community gardens will include a safe, productive space for the current community gardeners to continue to share their expertise and passion for gardening with the whole community. 
Works to clear the existing site will commence on 14 February 2022, and the garden refresh project will begin following community consultation. 
The Collingwood Children’s Farm Committee of Management thanks the Victorian Government for its ongoing support and commitment to renewal of the community gardens site. 

Updated 18th November 2021:

Clarification for Community Gardens

We’re pleased to provide an update on the Collingwood Children’s Farm community garden. Members of the Farm’s Committee of Management (the COM) have been meeting weekly with plot holder representatives and officers from the Department of Land, Environment, Water and Planning (DELWP) to discuss actions and timelines for reopening the gardens for an interim period before full redesign and refurbishment can commence. 

Recently, we took onboard community and gardener requests to assess any potential heritage values in the gardens. A heritage assessment was completed which determined that CCF can proceed with its planned redevelopment of the community gardens without breaching the heritage requirements of Heritage Victoria. The assessment and determination is now public via CCF’s website.  


The key issue for the site remains safety. After heavy spring rains and an extended lockdown period, the community garden is now severely overgrown. The broad plan is to clear the flat bottom third of the gardens of weeds and structures to create an accessible and safe gardening space for current plot holders before a wider community consultation process commences in 2022. The interim space will be maintained and supported by CCF staff who will also manage several plots for community engagement and education programs.  

However these plans are still in development.


Please note that some plot holders have formed a Collingwood Community Gardens 

Association. This organisation is not affiliated with the Farm and gardeners do not have to be a formal member of either the Community Gardens Association or the Collingwood Children’s Farm in order to be allocated a plot. All plot holders will however be issued a DELWP licence through the Farm. 

The Association recently distributed some information about the future of the community gardens that may be causing confusion with plot holders and members, so we’d like to clarify some matters. 

Will the community gardens return to plot holders after the safety works? 

Yes. After the safety upgrades, plots will be re-zoned and offered to current plot holders to continue their farming activities. The timeline for interim access is in discussion.   

Will the Community Gardens be used for a social enterprise business? 

No. Once the safety works are completed the community gardens will be reopened for plot holders and the broader community to continue farming as they have for many years.  

One of the 70 plots is held by CCF’s Moving Feast partners who are a social enterprise, but that plot will not be used commercially. It will be used for engagement and educational purposes with vulnerable youth.  

Have Community Gardeners been consulted in the process?  

Yes. Community Gardeners have been represented by three delegates from the Digging In Gardener’s Steering Committee in discussions since July.  

This evolved into a DELWP-led mediation process involving DELWP, Steering Committee reps and CCF Management and Committee Members that has been occurring weekly since September.  

The newly formed Collingwood Community Gardens Association has only recently contacted CCF, and it’s not clear whether they are affiliated with those three delegates and the Digging In Gardeners or not. 

CCF is committed to ongoing consultation with the Gardeners and local community. 


The Farm has applied for funding to undertake a systematic review of the role and function of the gardens, to be based on a wide community consultation with diverse stakeholders, partners and users of the Farm. The funding request includes design and refurbishment of the gardens to create a beautiful, all-access food growing space to meet the educational and social justice objectives of the Farm. We hope to hear news on this application in the next couple of weeks. 


We are also heartened to hear that a community documentary-maker and local heritage professionals are keen to document the history and significance of the community garden. 

The Farm will support this effort by providing historic photographs and archived documents and will begin sourcing these as soon as possible. We will also seek funds to have a “history of the gardens” interpretive signage as part of the renewal project. 

Finally, we want to acknowledge that the temporary closure of the gardens has upset many people and are sorry that the closure has been hard for gardeners and their families. We have also been overwhelmed with messages of support to rejuvenate the community garden and make it an inclusive space linked to the work of the Farm. 

Thanks to everyone who has reached out, and we look forward to working with current plot holders, farm partners and supporters and the wider community to redesign and renew these gardens in 2022.

Updated 19th July 2021:

No bulldozers.
No commercial development. 

The Community Gardens will remain Community Gardens.

The section of land at Collingwood Children’s Farm known as the ‘Community Gardens’ are temporarily closed. We understand our community of gardeners are saddened by the temporary closure; however this area has been deemed an extreme safety risk for children, gardeners, the community, and farm staff by an external safety consultant.

Collingwood Children’s Farm Committee of Management made this decision in line with best practice guidelines that prioritise community safety and assist committees when dealing with risk management.

– Hon Lily D’Ambrosio MP
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change & Minister for Solar Homes

Community is at the heart of all decisions made at CCF. We are saddened by the sorrow this has caused however we also want to ensure that everyone is aware of the facts. There are several misconceptions about this temporary closure, these are clarified below.

  • The site is not being bulldozed. Every effort will be taken to maintain the soil integrity during any remediation works. Machinery will be used to remove some materials more efficiently and safely.
  • The site will remain a Community Garden. The land is not being sold. No commercial development is taking place.
  • This is not about snakes. Yes, snakes are identified as a concern in the report due to the current condition of the gardens, but this is not the main reason for the temporary closure. The combination of multiple hazards within the gardens creates an even greater risk of serious injury. 
  • The current condition and layout of the gardens are not only unsafe; but do not allow safe access for children, the elderly and those who are mobility diverse. The gardens have become an exclusive space separated from the wider community because of this.
  • Gardening will not stop. The current gardeners will be invited to return to the space and will be included in the refreshed Community Gardens. In the interim, subject to covid restrictions, we will seek to enable current gardeners to continue to garden at the farm. A list of opportunities to remain engaged with the farm and gardens are provided on our website and will be updated as more opportunities arise.
  • Healthcare card holders who rely on produce grown in the CCF community garden and who experience food insecurity are offered produce from the CCF market garden.
  • All plot holders will have their fees fully reimbursed.  

The Farm has been working with the Community Gardeners to try and improve safety in the gardens since 2018. Throughout this time, the gardeners were alerted to safety concerns via multiple channels and their support was sought to improve the condition of the gardens. Sadly, the enormity of the project to make the site safe, and to improve accessibility has been too great.

We understand that our response to these safety hazards might seem unreasonable to those currently using the gardens and to able-bodied individuals, however, these hazards are preventing a significant proportion of our community from being able to access this space safely and allowing them to also enjoy the magic and extensive benefits of gardening.

Our aims and responsibilities

Collingwood Children’s Farm provides community engagement, education and nature connection with green space and animals. CCF works to support social inclusion with a range of programs on a working community farm and is a haven for children and adults alike.

CCF aims to develop self-esteem, self-worth, and connectedness, particularly of children and those experiencing adversity.

CCF aims to facilitate participation of children and their families in broader community life and a connection to nature.

CCF aims to provide educational opportunities around urban agriculture for students and community as well as pathways to further employment.

In addition to being a safe and accessible space, our refreshed community gardens will deliver these aims for the benefit and inclusion of all. 

We have a duty of care for the safety of all at the Farm, and we cannot ignore the safety advice received.

We cannot compromise on safety; this is not an optional feature of the gardens. However, we can consult on the design and structure of the rejuvenated gardens and will do so extensively.

If you have any questions, we encourage you to email us at [email protected]

Kind regards,


Temporary closure of our Community Gardens

On Thursday, 27 May we received a safety report from an external safety consultant about our Community Gardens. To say that the findings were not good, would be an understatement. The report identified major safety issues and concluded that the site is unsafe for gardeners, the community, and Farm staff. Several factors were rated as an extremely high risk, requiring immediate action.

The works required to fix the issues are significant and go to the very heart of the layout, structure, and design of the gardens.

Following receipt of the report, the Committee of Management reluctantly decided to temporarily close the Community Garden in order to implement the report’s recommendations.  

Our Community Garden brings immense joy to our Community Garden members. We will be doing everything we can to ease the impact of this closure and keep our gardeners connected and active during this time.

We will be providing alternative opportunities at the Farm for our Community Garden members to garden and maintain their social and physical well-being during the closure. 

Healthcare card holders who relied on produce grown in the CCF community garden and who experience food insecurity are offered produce from the CCF market garden.

While this will be an emotional and difficult transition for our Community Garden members, we hope that this will allow the Community Gardens to sprout again, not just safer, but more accessible and more inclusive than before.