ODE TO OAKHILL – The rundown churchyard transformed into a supportive food justice farm.

A once vacant and decrepit vicarage in Melbourne’s inner-north suburb of Preston is now home to Oakhill Food Justice Farm, a community space and urban farm empowering members with knowledge, skills and stronger social connections.

Situated 9 km from the CBD, Oakhill Food Justice Farm is the second such initiative of not-for-profit organisation Sustain. In the past 17 months and with the help of staff and volunteers, Sustain has turned a run-down churchyard into a thriving hub which educates, feeds and nurtures its community.

‘This place-making initiative demonstrates the power of urban agriculture to create beautiful places of nurturing and healing for people, plants, soil, birds and bees,’ says Sustain’s executive director Nick Rose. ‘Oakhill is central to Sustain’s mission to expand urban agriculture across Australia.’

The initiative is a great example of what’s possible when access to appropriate land and facilities can be combined with adequate funding. While volunteers play a large and important role at Oakhill, funding enables the recruitment of skilled staff, allows the farm to offer educational programs to kids, a paid-internship program to youth and means its community- focused goals can be reached more efficiently.

According to Nick, more than 1000 people have visited the Oakhill urban farm site and engaged with it in a variety of ways, and he says the potential and positive impacts are growing on a weekly basis.