18
Mar

Fawkner Food Bowls – The Neighbourhood Project Case study

From lawn bowls to food bowls: How two residents turned a local lawn bowls green into an urban food hub.

When Kelly met Sally, an idea was sparked! Two locals set about transforming an underutilised lawn bowls green into a family-friendly garden where people could grow produce, share knowledge, and interact with each other.

In 2017, Round 2 of The Neighbourhood Project saw applicants from across Melbourne, Australia, apply to pilot our transformative methodology on locally-led placemaking, thanks to backing from The Myer Foundation.

In the fast-growing northern suburb of Fawkner, Kelly and Sally won a place in The Neighbourhood Project for their burgeoning idea to pilot a community-led garden on the local lawn bowls green. What was once a mostly underused space, is now a thriving market-garden and beloved local destination: the Fawkner Food Bowls!

“A great place for the community to get together. A place to dig, make compost, pick fresh vegies or just sit with the kids. A lovely spot” – Community member

Kelly, a horticulturist and avid gardener, had heard the local bowls club was struggling to bring in new members, and Sally, a new resident with community development experience, was seeking opportunities for new young families to meet and interact. Previously a heavily industrial area, Fawkner was rapidly growing into a diverse community and desperately lacked family-friendly space.

Thanks to a local councillor introducing the motivated pair, Kelly and Sally quickly set about how they could contribute to the vision of a healthier and greener Fawkner future. The Neighbourhood Project worked closely with all parties as they workshopped, tested, and piloted their idea across six months, with outstanding results.

This project demonstrates how The Neighbourhood Project’s methodology can take a space with very low public usability, and increase that use by 1500%.

Quality of use was also enhanced, 86% of surveyed locals agreeing they are likely to spend more time at the site – with 100% feeling more involved in community.

Now a welcoming community space, the project has achieved positive community connection and skill-sharing and has directly contributed to boosting health through provision of local food sources.

Local trade partnerships have been established through market events, which has led to positive economic engagement. Moreover, the activation process of this project built a case for longer term financial investment, triggering capital works funding well in excess of $44,000.

As well as unlocking funds, the pilot prompted a council-level internal process review that is aiming to open up a clearer pathway for community project approval in the future. What’s more, increased leadership confidence and placemaking skills were reported for both council and community members. The project enabled capacity-building so that government, community and industry will continue to engage people at the centre of process and place.

“[I now] have a better understanding of how to approach councils and that they are encouraging of these types of events occurring. [This project has] helped me understand how these kinds of things actually happen” – Participant.

What started as two neighbours with one idea, has flourished into an ongoing, incorporated community group with eight dedicated committee members. They hold established partnerships with Moreland Council Food Network, Merri Health, Fawkner Bowls Club, The Green Grocer, and a range of local businesses.

For more information view our Fawkner Food Bowls film here.

Case study by Eliza Charley.