AHI Award for the Kensington Community Food Forest
We are proud to have received the Leading Community Engagement Practice Award for our Kensington Community Food Forest project, at the recent AHI Victorian 2019 Professional Excellence in Housing awards.
The Food Forest is a wonderful example of our vision, Communities that Thrive, encouraging social connection and community engagement. People of all ages and backgrounds, living on the Kensington estate, north west of Melbourne, and the broader community nurture and manage the Forest.
Consisting of over 90 different food producing plants, the Food Forest was established in 2017 on underutilised social housing land on our 6.5ha mixed tenure community in Kensington (formerly a public housing estate). It grew from an identified community need for a food garden and active space for those in the surrounding high-density units.
The Forest is built on sustainability principles including natural pest control, water harvesting and weed minimization. When the project was launched, the objectives were to increase community connection and health and wellbeing, grow food, create a sustainable and active space, provide education opportunities, develop skills and community capacity and create a sense of place and belonging.
Over time, the Food Forest helped achieve this and more. Above all, we are delighted to see the friendships developed thanks to the Forest, to witness the pride in the community for this little oasis and to have helped foster neighbourhood connections and cross-cultural exchange.
The award recognises the hard work, partnerships and collaboration which has brought this fabulous community asset to life. The Forest project has also generated additional community projects and investment particularly around healthy activity and neighbour engagement.
Unison Housing leads the project with partner Living Learning Australia. Initial funding was provided by the City of Melbourne and the forest grows on land owned by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.
As the Forest matures, food production will increase, initiatives will continue to evolve and the beautiful community space will grow as a place to connect.
We now go on to the Australasian Awards presented at the National Housing Conference in August. Wish us luck!