The Grand United Order of Free Gardeners

The Free Gardeners originated thousands of year ago in the vineyards and gardens of King Solomon's newly built temple on Mount Zion. As they gradually broke away from bondage and went searching for work they were often helped by colleagues encountered on their travels. Over time a bonded fellowship developed that enabled members to rely on other members for protection, assistance and benevolence. They became the Order of Free Gardeners.

In the 19th century bonded fellowship morphed into a concept known as mutual aid and was regulated by the Friendly Societies Act. They provided medical and funeral benefits, and loans for educational or housing expenses. They were able to help thousands of families throughout the turn of the century, the Great Depression, two world wars and into the 21st century. In 2006 the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority removed all of their financial responsibilities and with that, the majority of their members.

This group remain the only Free Gardeners in the Southern Hemisphere and one of only a handful around the world. In their 150th year in Victoria they are still seeking opportunities to serve the community and continue their history of benevolence, friendship, belonging and community service. 

I hope that the oral history and the history brochure I produced will enable them to fulfil these wishes.