The Willsmere Kitchen Garden (WKG) is a community garden located in Yarra Bend Park in Kew - the largest area of natural bushland near the heart of Melbourne. This park, located where the Yarra River and Merri Creek join, has been an important site for the Wurundjeri Aboriginal people for a long time before the arrival of Europeans in Melbourne. This is commemorated by the Koori Garden on the western edge of the park, near Dights Falls.
The Willsmere Kitchen garden was established in 2017 as a collaboration between a group of residents from the neighbouring Willsmere Estate and Parks Victoria and provides a unique and cherished place to share a vision of growing our own food, strengthening community bonds and sharing gardening knowledge. We take pride in its openness and welcome everyone in the community to enjoy our beautiful gardens, but ask that you respect the produce of individuals.
The garden’s first stage is designed to pay homage to the formal gardens of the neighbouring asylum and the site’s recent history as a kitchen garden that supplied food for the inmates and staff of the asylum.
It features a central talking circle surrounded by seats that are designed to encourage conversations and community. Above-ground beds were donated by Bunnings Hawthorn in November 2018 and smaller community herb beds around the inner circle were created with recycled local materials. In 2019 a variety of herbs were planted for all to enjoy, including a tea garden that can provide relief from sleeplessness, arthritis and rambunctious cats.
The inaugural committee have a vision and a grand plan for the future that involves a second set of above-ground beds mirroring the first, a heritage fruit orchard, a garlic farm, many more in-ground beds, grape vines, communal spaces with paving and chairs and tables as well as a series of workshops and community days designed to celebrate the space and share knowledge.