Yarra Valley ECOSS is a not-for-profit community organisation based on a 7.4 hectare permaculture designed farm at Wesburn on Wurundjeri Country.
On this beautiful property ECOSS demonstrates sustainable living solutions for the community of the Yarra Valley and beyond.

Our Vision is to promote local food production, food security, earth education, and multicultural living, while building work skills and developing a vibrant, resilient, inclusive and sustainable community.

In 2022 ECOSS received recognition of our achievements by means of winning 2 Premiers Sustainability Awards in the areas of Community Champion for: Sustainable Places and Social and Economic Justice.

We foster a culture of respect for the environment and community.
We work with honesty and integrity in our interactions.
We are committed to modelling best environmental practices.
We approach every challenge with enthusiasm and humour.
We are innovative and relevant in our thinking and practices.
We work together, everyone gets heard and we do what we say we’ll do.
We strive for cultural and social inclusiveness.
ECOSS is solutions oriented and focused on demonstrating commercially sustainable green social enterprises and practical green solutions, whilst supporting the Arts and Multicultural activities on site.

ECOSS has established a very well respected reputation for facilitating and mentoring people in the local community to improve their work skills to prepare them for re-entering the job market and in partnering with school groups. ECOSS also provides a hub for related local non-profits to hold meetings, activities and partner with us on projects.

ECOSS values the creation of culturally diverse and creative projects that represent our diverse community. Local groups we partner and co-locate with include the Permaculture Yarra Valley, YV Bee Group, Warburton Environment, Upper Yarra Landcare, Tiny Houses to Go, The Pottery Studio, Bushwood Creations, Silvertine Bio-Dynamic Farm, Tonantzin Sweat Lodge and Tipi Ceremony, Beans and Bananas Food Co-op, Melganics, The Dreaming Space Circus, The Pottery Studio, and numerous other local groups and businesses.
ECOSS hosts a Practical Earth Education Program , and groups of people living with disabilities come to ECOSS for our All Abilities facilitated programs, to volunteer in the Community Garden and the Nursery.  People can volunteer in our general Volunteer Program or in our Crops for Community Program, whereby we grow produce for donation to both Oonah Indigenous Tuckerbag Program and Koha Community Cafe.
We also run UpCycles, an exciting bicycle up-cycling hub, where we sell and donate bikes to those who need them, whilst reducing landfill.
We have a Native and Edibles plant nursery, where we sell direct to public and take larger orders.  In the Nursery we also sell BioChar. We have a ‘co-farming’ space called Pollination Place.

We host the ECOSS Valley Market every Friday, supporting growers and community to access locally grown produce.

We host many annual community events including: Ecotopia Earth Festival, Rhythms of the World, Childrens Week, Ngulu Indigenous Festival, Earth Kids Play Day, Twilight Market, as well as lots of events and workshops during the year.

ECOSS hires the site for events, and also hires assets such as the Wash Against Waste kit and SmoothyCycle.

ECOSS currently has 5 part-time staff members supported by a Management Committee and an active and enthusiastic group of volunteers, students and work-experience partners.
ECOSS predominantly operates via small grants and small fundraising ventures; we lease the land from Yarra Ranges Council and have a Partnership Agreement with them.

ECOSS works with local Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Kim Wandin to create culturally significant educational projects onsite.

Our Site

Our Site – A Sense of Place The 7.4 hectare site at 711 Old Warburton Rd, Wesburn, a poultry farm in a previous life, is a lovely rural and bush landscape setting. There are some great established heritage gardens, substantial buildings including an old farm house, and the frames of two massive chicken sheds. There is huge potential and opportunity for creative development of this site. For the first couple of years working groups and volunteers worked tirelessly to clean up the site and renovate the old farm house for use as the interim site-centre. Already many hundreds of hours of volunteer time have been put into maintenance and preparation of the old farm house, turning weedy grass into lawns and establishing demonstration gardens.  Yarra Ranges Council upgraded the existing toilets and have built us a beautiful new wheelchair accessible toilet. Eastern health Indigenous groups have built our Indigenous Reconciliation Conversation Fire Pit, and our Koori Cubby. Many schools- mostly Healesville High School have built our Earthbag Cubby. Artists Sioux Dollman and other community members built our wonderful Pizza oven. Other projects on site include the Musical Cubby, a rainforest garden display, a playground, new pizza oven and other interesting features mostly built by Cire Community School Students. We have recently built a larger carpark to support our expansion.  We have space for more co-locating businesses and welcome initiative proposals that match our ethics and vision for the site.

The Coop.

The Coop is our classroom in one of the chicken sheds. This space is used by ECOSS to host groups and events, and is also available for the community to hire for various events.  It was built by ECOSS Committee and Volunteers, and is a fabulous resource for the whole community. Some of the wonderful events that occur annually in the Coop include:  The Recycled Fashion Parade, West African Immersion, Climate Information Nights, Bush Dances, Art Exhibitions, Musical Concerts, Fundraisers. Weekly it is utilised by Wesley United Disabilities groups.

Community Garden.

We host a large Community Garden, managed by our volunteers. We collect the Vipassana Centre compost and turn it into goodness for our garden. Different user groups occupy certain plots, they take the harvest, and ECOSS volunteers collect and cook the produce for sale at our events. We demonstrate new ideas where we can, hosting Wicking Beds, and a Permaculture Design Keyhole Garden, and a Herb Garden.  We receive guidance and support from Permaculture Yarra Valley. We have a Heritage Fruit Tree Orchard in with our chooks- who are old varieties of chooks. We have a native nursery and polytunnel, and 2 large edibles polytunnels. Currently one of the Polytunnels is hosting the Bee Happy Garden project, whereby Ruby-Jane is propagating Bee Friendly Species to sell as box sets.

Our Water.

We have a beautiful dam which collects much of the water on site filtered through our swale Bio-filtration plant planted by Cire Community School year 9 students.  The terrestrial area has been revegetated, and soon we will revegetate the aquatic are with school groups.  The plan is to take responsibility for cleaning and collecting water on site.  With a vision to eventually collect all our onsite water. We have built a frog bog– with some financial support from Upper Yarra Garden Club.  This has been maintained- and fence has been constructed by Cire school year 7 group. We host Melbourne Water Frog Census, and aim to data collect and contribute to the Frog Census project.

Our Co-locators.

Community Pottery Studio Yarra Valley have built a community Pottery studio in one of the chicken sheds.  They run Wheel throwing and hand building classes regularly, and contribute to the Education Program at ECOSS. Silvertine Bio-Dynamic Market Garden have created a beautiful nourished market garden down the back of the site, with Farm Gate sales on Fridays. They participate in our Education Program. Tonantzin Mexican Chocolate House; are currently converting the old Arts building into their chocolate factory and cellar door sales.  This exciting new addition to ECOSS will also join in our Education Program.  They honour their Mexican roots and also host a Native Mexican Traditional Sweat Lodge down the back. Warburton Environment,  have their office in the Cottage at ECOSS.  Karina Doughty the President of Warburton Environment is also on the Committee of Management. Upper Yarra Landcare,  also have an office in the Cottage, contributing to our Environment Hub. Beans and Bananas food Coop, pack vegetables fortnightly outside the Coop, distributing to the local community.  They purchase locally grown produce including from Silvertine. Yarra Valley Bee Group, meet once per month in the Coop.  They host observation hives at ECOSS, and also participate in our Education Program. Tiny Houses 2 Go,  Build Tiny Houses in the lower Chicken Shed at ECOSS.  They’re interested in providing social housing, and small footprint living. TC Tiny;  is our newest Co-locator, also building Tiny Houses in the lower Chicken shed at ECOSS. Natural Building Centre;  Tom Neil hosts traditional Chair Bodging workshops nearby the dam, but also hosts Natural building workshops occasionally including Hemp Crete, Straw Bale building and Fire Safe Building.

Community Park Concept

Those associated with the establishment of Yarra Valley ECOSS could see the potential to develop a Community Environment Park with a rural focus, using CERES Community Environment Park in urban Melbourne as the primary model. The steering committee was inspired by the potential of CERES to engender a culture of sustainability through harnessing the creative energy of the community (www.ceres.org.au). There are other well established models overseas as well, such as Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales (www.cat.org.uk) and Auroville in India (www.auroville.org). Community Environment Centres are springing up across Australia and the world. The rural property which is our home base, provides an opportunity to create an environment park with a rural focus to complement CERES and the other community environment parks in urban Melbourne. In 2009 a Master Plan for the site was developed in consultation with the community. This plan was adopted by the Yarra Ranges Council and forms the basic reference document for the development of the park.

Our Sponsors

Yarra Ranges Council generously support us with a partnership agreement, and also have consistently supported us with our large festival Ecotopia Earth Festival.  Yarra Ranges Council also include us in their volunteers trainings, and we are supported by many departments within council. We would not be able to operate at the level we do without Yarra Ranges Council, and we are deeply appreciative of the consistent support they have offered us over the years.  Including having their Executive Officer for Sustainability on our Committee of Management. https://www.yarraranges.vic.gov.au/Home

Upper Yarra Community Enterprise – Warburton and Yarra Junction Bendigo Bank branches. UYCE have been fantastic supporters of ECOSS over many years.  They have consistently supported our Ecotopia Earth Festivals, they provided us with project grants, and have even come to the rescue with a wheelchair accessible portaloo funding at short notice.  Upper Yarra Community Enterprise invest an amazing 80% of profits back into the community.  They are the foundations for a strong Upper Yarra Valley Community and we are proud and very grateful to be supported by them. www.upperyarra.net.au

Hugh Williamson Foundation In 2016 ECOSS were very lucky to receive a large grant from the Hugh Williamson Foundation.  This grant was solely spent on building a portable composting toilet and large purpose built classroom at ECOSS.  This classroom was essential for ECOSS’s growth, and has been busy since it was available for use.  It now hosts 2 x Cert 2 in Horticulture groups per week, other school groups use it every week, Nia dance classes on Monday nights, currently hosting a series of Lantern making workshops, it hosts craft workshops most Sundays, the Yarra Valley Bee group have ongoing monthly bookings, the school of cultural creativity and many more groups are using it.  We are so incredibly grateful for this funding that has enabled us to fulfil our vision and expand our capacity to facilitate groups. http://www.eqt.com.au/charities-and-not-for-profits/grants/hugh-williamson-foundation

FRRR Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal. We have been very lucky to be successful in our applications for many projects through FRRR.  One was to run a Cert 2 in Horticulture at ECOSS for youth, and another to employ a Youth Worker to administer our Youth Programs.  Also they have supported us in our Capacity Building through our Volunteer and Disability Grant, and Program Development Officer.This funding has enabled a vibrant and full schedule around ECOSS with appropriately skilled staff to run the projects.  It has enabled ECOSS professionalism in the delivery of the Youth programs, All Abilities, Program Development.  The Cert 2 in Horticulture course was filled within days!  FRRR has also funded our School Program Operations Position for 2019, upgrading and making our Schools Program Sustainable.FRRR has also funded our Catching the Sun Grant – enabling us to put a $10,000 Solar Power System at ECOSS, reducing our bills and enabling us to spread environmental education. Thank you FRRR! http://www.frrr.org.au

Powershop  Powershop funded $20,000 of our Solar Power System- combined with FRRR, we can now generate enough power to cover our site usage and more in summer.  We are extremely grateful to Powershop!

The William Buckland Foundation We were lucky enough to receive funding from The William Buckland Foundation from 2012-14.  This enabled us to build up our nurseries and offer horticulture training to our trainees, volunteers and work for the dole. http://www.eqt.com.au/charities-and-not-for-profits/grants/the-william-buckland-foundation

We have also gratefully received significant funding from the following:

Sustainability Victoria Helen McPherson Smith Trust Fund.

Yarra Valley FM- host us for a fortnightly show.  They stream our Ecotopia Festival live to air.  We are grateful for their fantastic community service and support.