Darebin Information Volunteer Resource Service (DIVRS) is a non-profit organisation that offers a variety of resources which aim to protect and support vulnerable members of the Darebin Community. Its Urban Food Program is the practical application of goals in home food growing, community gardening, urban food production and integrated approaches to planning urban food programs.
One of DIVRS’ initiatives is the growing and selling of trees and seedlings by volunteers. By purchasing and planting these products, you are supporting DIVRS’ activities to protect and preserve the urban orchard for your community and for future generations and increasing your own food security and those who you share with.
Another DIVRS’ initative is The Darebin Fruit Squad, which is a group of trained volunteers who harvest excess fruit from households in Darebin. Once collected, these otherwise wasted resources are made available to members of the community who struggle to access fresh, nutritious food. Since their establishment in 2013, they have collected around 6 tonnes of fruit. Whilst some tree owners simply offer their surplus fruit, others are provided with maintenance services (fertilising, pruning, etc) in return for their surplus fruit.
Based on this experience, DFS and DIVRS are now encouraging others localities to develop similar initiatives. To assist with this, they have published a booklet entitled Harvesting the Urban Orchard, whose aim is “to provide practical information, tools and tips that you can use in establishing your own fruit-harvesting project.” Click here to view or download the booklet.
The Mushroom Shed is a local grower of swiss brown and white mushrooms and also provide ‘grow your own’ kits for people who want to grow their own mushrooms at home. They also do a wide range of herb and veggie seedlings, in pots/punnets – concentrating on heritage and unusual varieties, with over 40 varieties of heritage tomato seedlings available in Spring. You can see Mark and Helen at farmers’ markets both locally and in other Melbourne suburbs. As a small producer, they sell only direct to the customer via farmers’ markets (no wholesale), giving the customer ultimate freshness and an opportunity to talk directly with the grower.
The Veggie Empire grow fruit, vegetables and herbs at Beales Road Farm. They sell both seedlings and vegetables to the public. They also provide vegetables and herbs to the Earthbound Bolton cafe in Eltham and to the food relief program at Greenhills Neighbourhood House in Greensborough.
Beales Road Farm is a small regenerative urban farm in suburban Greensborough that operates under a landshare arrangement with local man Hayden Mclean, who generously shares his land with the team. The farm is closed to the public but keep an eye on social media for special events and offers.
The farm team comprises NDIS-funded team members Josh and Scott, plus supporting horticulturalists and other volunteers.
The farm includes a small propagation nursery where the team grow seedlings for planting out on the farm and for sale. This includes a shaded hard stand work area and a poly tunnel. The Veggie Empire would like to thank Local Food Connect, Nelson Alexander Real Estate, Somerset Organics and Yarra Valley Water, all of whom provided support for this development.