The Team

The Driver - Gerard Stevenson

Gerard had a fall in August 2014 and now resides at VASS as a ventilator dependent quadriplegic. Lucky to be alive, Gerard has risen to the challenges of his new life and has worked towards creating a better life for those who share his supported accommodations. As a keen gardener before his accident, Gerard, was inspired by the Growroom
urban farm to create an immersive food forest garden for the residents. Inspired by the idea of abundance and the joy it inspires the garden has been developed in consultation with the residents and directed by Gerard.

The Designer- Andrew Laidlaw

Andrew Laidlaw is the President of Global Gardens of Peace and Landscape Architect at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria where he is responsible for the design and implementation of an extensive range of landscape projects. His achievements include the award winning Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden (2004), Guilfoyle’s Volcano Project (2010) and the rejuvenation of the Fern Gully (2013). His design work has won a number of awards including Best New Tourist Attraction for Victoria and Landscape of the Year in 2005. Andrew has also taught at post-graduate, degree and certificate levels in horticulture and landscape design and currently lectures at Melbourne University in the post-graduate certificate of Landscape design. He was a regular gardening commentator on ABC 774 for ten years and has made numerous television presentations. Andrew is passionate about his role as principal landscape designer for Global Gardens of Peace. Its philosophy is that “gardens are forever” and its belief is that gardens are the centre for which to build a community around.

The Artist- Deborah Halpern

Deborah Halpern, OAM,  is a highly recognised and respected contemporary artist with an acclaimed national and international reputation in the arts community. She is known for her widely colourful mosaic work and the creator of many of Melbourne’s much loved public sculptures. Deborah has been honoured with several Awards and Grants throughout her career and continues to push the boundaries and inspire with her work. Deborah Halpern’s first large commissioned work was in 1987 by the National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Bicentennial Authority. Halpern was commissioned to create a sculpture for the south moat of the NGV’s St Kilda Road site. With an original grant of $25,000, the sculpture, Angel, became a huge success We are excited to have Deborah as part of our project.

Global Gardens of Peace

Global Gardens of Peace is an Australian Charity founded by Moira Kelly in 2013. The aim of Global Gardens of Peace is to build inclusive, accessible gardens which inspire, heal and empower vulnerable communities. With the philosophy that “Gardens are Forever” they believe that living landscapes provide people with inspiration, healing and growth, and play an important role in rebuilding and uniting communities. We are excited that the food forest at VASS will be a part of these global gardens. The team from GGoP bring a wealth of project management and design skills to our project as well as industry contacts and funding. The Food Forest project is a joint project between Yooralla and the Global Gardens of Peace. The forest very much fits with the GGoP mission to work with partners to create sustainable and accessible gardens that change people’s lives and make a positive impact.

The Site- Ventilator Accommodation Support Services

 Yooralla is a keen supporter and large donor of funds to the Food Forest. Ventilator Accommodation Support Service (VASS) is a state-wide service that provides accommodation and high-level 24-hour support for people who are chronically dependent on mechanical ventilation. Located in Thornbury, VASS is managed and run by Yooralla and  features three long-term residential houses, plus a house for people who require either planned or emergency respite support. The Food Forest will be located in between Houses 1 and 2 and has approval from the Department of Family, Fairness and Housing. The Yooralla team bring expertise in collaboration, fund raising, management and risk management.



The Final Plans.

We are thrilled to welcome the team at EGA to our project. They have donated their time and expertise in drawing up the final plans and scoping the works that will take place and we are forever grateful for their input.

Established by iconic designer Rick Eckersley, with partners Scott Leung and Myles Broad, Eckersley Garden Architecture understands how space and facility work together. EGA has received commissions Australia wide and internationally. Their client base is as varied as our garden designs, ranging from small residential, through commercial multi-residential, to large country and beach retreats. We are excited to have EGA involved with the Food Forest.