Gaia Archer-Craig and John Nguyen are dedicated supporters of St Kilda Baptist Church Community Kitchen. The second year Bachelor of Applied Public Health students from ACU’s Melbourne campus have recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $1500 for the Community Kitchen group to build a kitchen garden.
As part of the Community Engagement Fieldwork component of ACU’s Bachelor of Applied Public Health, they have been attending the community kitchen on a fortnightly basis since the start of the year.
The St Kilda Community Kitchen is a fun and relaxed environment providing a place of belonging that is safe and welcoming for people from diverse cultural backgrounds and age groups ranging from 3-82 years old. Attendees are local members of the community, residing in housing commission flats in the St Kilda and Balaclava area. Most of the participants are living in government housing or hostel situations. Many of them have or are experiencing mental health issues, family and relationship breakdowns, are unemployed, retired or on disability pensions. For many of the participants, Community Kitchen creates a strong sense of belonging and offers a place where they are able to contribute in a meaningful way.
John says participants have the opportunity to learn new skills in the kitchen and express their creativity. “By contributing to the task of making a healthy and nutritious meal, meaningful friendships and connections with others have been developed,” he says.
The community kitchen is not just about the meal. “It’s about honouring and respecting each other and sharing life together,” says Gaia.
“An edible garden would provide yet another way for people to connect. It would provide an opportunity to create something beautiful together, to contribute to the sustainability of the meal, to learn new skills and have ownership of a ‘project’ that can be nurtured and cared for as a team.”
For the church, while the Community Kitchen is an extension of its pastoral care, it also acknowledges that providing opportunities and activities for participants to engage in, such as an edible garden, can be life giving and empowering on many levels.
“The addition of an edible garden potentially expands the time spent together and has the capacity to strengthen the sense of purpose and belonging for those who otherwise feel vulnerable, isolated and marginalised by society,” says John.
The money raised from the Lets Act campaign will help to provide resources such as trellis, pot plants, large and small plants, as well as fertiliser and seedlings. There are three potential garden beds that will need to be worked to sustain the plants and help them grow. The planting of vegetables such as tomatoes, beans and pumpkin will help to sustain the kitchens meals and provide a task for participants in the program when required to be picked. Flowers and other greenery is another requirement of the garden development and will help add smiles and heart to the surroundings, an extremely important concept for those who struggle day to day.
Help make a difference. Click here to support the Community Garden crowdfunding campaign!