Banyule Urban Food Strategy Launch

Nov 27, 2023 | Climate change, News

The Banyule Urban Food Strategy was officially launched on November 23, 2023, at the Bellfield Community Hub with an audience of community members and community organisation representatives. On the day, a tour of Bellfield Community Garden and the next door Farmraiser urban farm gave participants a practical experience of urban food production.

Sustainable Macleod has been involved with developing the Strategy from the outset, writing to Counsellor McKern in 2021 in support of her initiative to develop the Strategy. In part, that letter read:

Sustainable Macleod fully supports the development of a Banyule Food Strategy.

The recent pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of this community, as well as other communities, to disruptions in the supply of food.

Access to nutritious, fresh and healthy food is a fundamental human right. Without a reliable, sustainable source of food, the physical and mental health of residents is seriously compromised.

A well-constructed food strategy would not only ensure a continued food supply, it could also support education, both in understanding of food and nutrition, as well as in producing food at home. Community gardens and urban farming could be supported through such a strategy, opening the way to increased production of local, fresh food.

A Banyule Food Strategy should also enhance connection in the community through cooperative approaches to producing food locally. It should also help give residents a clear sense of empowerment through being part of the production of local food.

The Strategy was developed in partnership with Sustain: The Australian Food Network. The Working Group included a range of community organisations, including BANSIC, Local Food Connect, Bellfield Community Garden and St John’s Community Garden, along with Council representatives and Sustain staff. As the Sustainable Macleod representative on the Group I was able to share our experience in producing local food within a well-managed community garden setting. The Banyule community was further involved through kitchen table discussions and community workshops.

Cr Alida McKern, Nick Rose (Sustain) and Professor Michael Buxton, professor of Environment and Planning at the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT all spoke at the launch, which was introduced by Mayor Tom Melican. They underlined the importance of protecting the future of peri-urban agricultural* areas especially as the changing climate impacts food production and availability.

The Strategy and the associated Action Plan, promises reliable access for all Banyule residents to healthy, nutritious food. As a respected voice in the community, Sustainable Macleod will continue to play a significant role to ensure that the Strategy fulfills the aims outlined.

*Agricultural land on the edge of cities, used for food production, which is being lost as a result of housing development.

Written by Paul Gale-Baker