The Wollert Community Farm is a place in Melbourne’s outer northern suburbs for the local community to connect, learn and prosper through environmental and agricultural activities.
Developed as a partnership between Whittlesea Community Connections, Yarra Valley Water and Melbourne Polytechnic, and supported by the City of Whittlesea, the Farm is an environmental education hub and local food system that aims to restore nature and ensure that local community members can live and eat well.
The Farm at Wollert
The Farm is being completed in stages, with stage one to be launched in 2024.
Activities at the Farm will include:
- A social enterprise indigenous plant nursery and seed production area
- Community food growing and seedling propagation
- Education, training and volunteering
- Conservation and land management
- Crop trialling and research
- First Nations-led activities
More than a Farm
The Farm’s purpose is to create a legacy that changes lives, helps our community thrive and restores and protects the environment. Caring for Country and helping people break the cycle of disadvantage through learning and connection are at the heart of this exciting initiative.
The Farm will feature a unique indoor and outdoor learning hub that will provide training, education and employment opportunities in agriculture, horticulture and conservation for local community members, students and refugees.
Its seed-to-soil-to-plate initiatives will ensure a flow of fresh, affordable, sustainably and locally grown produce to those who need it most in the City of Whittlesea and build closer relationships between producers and consumers.
The Farm’s social enterprises will develop goods and services that support local communities, businesses and industry.
Championing regenerative agriculture and circular economy approaches, the Farm will demonstrate the use of recycled water while embedding Traditional Custodian principles of caring for country into land management practices.
What’s happening at the Farm?
For the latest updates and a full calendar of exciting events, remember to visit Home – Whittlesea Community Connections. Join us in celebrating community, nature and growth. Stay connected with the vibrant happenings at Wollert Community Farm!
How did Wollert Community Farm start?
Whittlesea Community Connections’ CEO Alex Haynes planted the seeds for the farm concept back in 2018. Alex approached Yarra Valley Water to see if buffer land around the Aurora Treatment Plant in Wollert could be better used for community benefit. That simple conversation led to the concept of Wollert Community Farm, a place where the community can come together to connect, learn and prosper.
Yarra Valley Water is providing the land and recycled water for this innovative project in Melbourne’s rapidly expanding Northern Growth Corridor. Melbourne Polytechnic brings motivated students and a wealth of teaching expertise in agricultural, horticultural and conservation education. The City of Whittlesea provided early local government backing to this important peri-urban initiative.
Since the early beginnings in 2019, a rigorous collaborative planning process has identified the optimal range of activities for the farm. The project has received all the necessary approvals, including a council planning permit in mid-2022. Construction of stage one infrastructure kicked off late that year.
Who are the project partners?
Whittlesea Community Connections (WCC) is a place-based community led organisation, delivering a range of services and programs to meet community needs, encourage participation and involvement.
WCC’s involvement in the WCF and partnership is driven by the opportunities to build a more connected community, support a stronger local economy, improve local conservation outcomes, support a more resilient local food system and advance opportunities for First Nations-led initiatives.
Melbourne Polytechnic (MP) is a provider of vocational education and training, offering a wide range of innovative TAFE (VET) and Higher Education (degrees) that prepare students for the workplace. MP has six campuses in Melbourne’s north and is Victoria’s largest metropolitan provider of primary industry training.
Through the WCF, MP is seeking to support community access and pathways to training and employment opportunities with a focus on providing training in sustainable food and fibre. MP is also seeking to facilitate strong and strategic partnerships with community and local industry/organisations and provide a new training setting for training current and future workforce, a setting that includes circular economy principles.
Yarra Valley Water (YVW) is Melbourne’s largest water retailer and owns the site where the WCF will be located. YVW also operates the adjacent wastewater treatment plant and Waste-to-Energy facility. YVW’s purpose is to create a brighter future for communities and the natural environment and has a desire to deliver more community and environmental value through this partnership.
YVW sees the partnership and WCF as an opportunity to demonstrate more valuable uses of treatment plant buffer land as well as embed Traditional Custodian principles of caring for country into land management at the site.
What are the core drivers of the Farm project?
The Farm’s guiding drivers are:
- Food security – supporting a resilient and fair local food system through community-based peri-urban farming
- Wellbeing and empowerment – improving health and wellbeing through social engagement and connection to nature; providing pathways from hardship to opportunity
- Circular economy – demonstrating circular economy practice and sustainable peri-urban environments
- Training and employment – facilitating formal education and training in agriculture, horticulture and conservation; promoting inclusive economic participation through partnerships, programs and enterprises
- Biodiversity – restoring natural heritage on site and beyond, through revegetation and ecological management
- First Nations – providing a place for First Nations initiatives and connection to Country
When will the Farm be completed?
The first stage of the Farm’s masterplan will be completed over 2024. This includes the delivery of road access, drainage, fencing, a multi-purpose building, utilities and nursery infrastructure. Subject to funding, stage two will establish the infrastructure to support the entire range of planned activities, including a machinery shed, training building and carpark.
As the Farm develops, we’ll be delivering a broader range of training opportunities including beekeeping, crop trials, seed production, conservation and land management and regenerative cattle grazing. It will also allow us to pursue more in-depth resource sharing with First Nations’ peoples and local conservation groups, provide more extensive community food growing opportunities, develop an indigenous interpretive trail for community education and advance opportunities for refugee skills building and employment outcomes.