THERE were scones, crafts, music and lots of colourful plants.
The second Old Church on the Hill Spring Fair was fittingly rustic and brimming with the fresh whimsicality of the season.
Soulful tunes by the Seducaphones wafted through the air and 26 stallholders sold preserves, vintage clothes and food - offering their talents and time to connect with their neighbours.
Organiser Rose Vincent said the Old Church on the Hill - a neighbourhood centre in Quarry Hill - had sparked people's imaginations.
"It's captured the imagination of people in Bendigo looking to connect," she said.
"It's mostly happening through word of mouth."
She said many people in Bendigo were isolated, but a community garden and kitchen helped people form friendships and bond.
"Food is something that brings people together," she said.
"Neighbours are meeting each other for the first time coming here."
She said the centre held community events nearly every day including gardening, craft making, martial arts and playgroup meetings.
She said offering cooking classes would encourage more people to be involved in the centre.
Helen Coughlan, who was making floral garlands for children, said she had been involved in The Old Church on the Hill for about five years and found it an "amazing" place.
"My heart sings more when I'm here," she said.
Neighbours are meeting each other for the first time coming here.- Rose Vincent
"It's very family-oriented and people from all walks of life and all ages come here."
Sandra Lowenthal, who had baked cakes for the occasion, said she had been involved in the community garden for the past 12 months.
She said the gardens were used by people from varying socio-economic, cultural and age groups; including people at risk of being marginalised.
"It's a great way to get those people involved in the community," she said.
Mrs Vincent said last year's inaugural event raised $11,000 and this year's fair was on track to raise a similar amount.
She said $85,000 had been raised for the kitchen so far and an additional $40,000 was required.
To learn more about the neighbourhood centre, go to Old Church on the Hill on Facebook.
Activities are open to everyone.
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