The VASS Food Forest is officially open!

After many years of planning, raising funds and finally, construction – we officially opened the Food Forest at Yooralla’s Ventilator Accommodation Support Service (VASS) in Melbourne’s inner northern suburb of Thornbury.

The Food Forest, a philanthropically-funded joint venture between Yooralla and Global Gardens of Peace (GGoP), is a beautiful oasis that will enhance the health and wellbeing of residents at VASS.

We were so pleased to gather the Yooralla and Global Gardens of Peace community together to celebrate this momentous occasion on Friday 3 November. Joining us for the celebration were Member for Northcote, Kat Theophanous MP and CR Julie Williams, Mayor of Darebin – who did the honour of cutting the ribbon to officially declare the Food Forest open.

During the celebrations hosted by Chief Operations Officer, Mel Cofre, we heard from President of GGoP and respected Landscape Architect, Andrew Laidlaw, who was instrumental in the Food Forest project. Andrew was incredibly grateful for the support of everyone involved.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a community to build a garden,” said Andrew.

“For us to be able to bring a garden into this [space] and fill it with a lot of such positive energy is nothing short of a miracle. With everyone chipping in, it was an amazing result.”

The Food Forest was the vision of the late Gerard Stevenson, former VASS resident, who was the pioneer of the project. During the celebrations, we heard from his wife Sue.

“Gerard would have loved this...he would have been blown away by how amazing it is,” said Sue.

“It’s been a journey and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. This garden is Gerard’s living legacy,” she said.

Gerard handed over leadership of the project to another VASS resident Michael Raad, who is excited for the future of the Food Forest.

“We wanted to see something nice from our rooms,” said Michael.

“We’re all very grateful to sit out here. Everything here is edible and for Christmas lunch we will be able to make salad with the tomatoes grown in the Food Forest, and making cornbread,” he said.

Michael was also gifted two fish from Gerard, who have now taken up residence in the garden’s pond.

“Soon we will buy some more fish and will have six in the pond!” said Michael.

Terry Symonds, Chief Executive Officer at Yooralla said, “this project has been a long time in the making.”

“It’s been a pleasure to work with a like-minded organisation such as Global Gardens of Peace on this project that will greatly benefit the residents at VASS,” Terry said.

For more information about VASS, please visit our website.

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