Connecting gardens, groups and growers to create a more resilient food future in Darebin

March Sustainable Food Leaders Forum Update

The Sustainable Food Leaders Forum was held on March 20th, 2013 in the Preston City Hall. The forum was attended by 26 passionate community members involved and / or interested in a fairer, more equitable and environmentally sustainable food future.

The forum sought community input to some important planning activities at Darebin Council:

2013 – 2017 Community Health and Wellbeing Plan

Council is currently seeking community input to the next 4 year Community Health and Wellbeing Plan.  Community Wellbeing Team Leader Jess Fraser invited the group to think about how social, economic and environmental factors, including the natural and built environments, can shape our health and wellbeing. How people access and consume food is a key consideration for health and wellbeing given the huge impact diet and food culture can have on a community’s physical health and social connectedness. In their role as sustainable food leaders, forum attendees were asked to answer the following questions:

  1. How can Council support improved food security and sustainable food production?
  2. What else can Council do to make Darebin a healthier place?

The information provided at the forum is being collated and analysed along with input from workshops and engagement activities with other community groups, residents, partner agencies, Council’s Advisory Committees and all Council departments on their health priorities and needs. To complement these focused workshops it will also include an online survey for all residents to access which will be emailed to the network. The consultation process is expected to continue until the end of May.

The different themes that emerge will identify the priority areas for consideration in the new plan and you will be invited to provide feedback on the draft document in July 2013.

For more information please contact Jess Fraser on

2012 – 2020 Greenstreets Streetscape Strategy and Nature strip Planting Guidelines

Council has been seeking community feedback and input into the draft 2012 – 2020 Greenstreets Streetscape Strategy since 2011. GreenStreets is a high level strategic document intended as a streetscape design and upgrade manual to guide Council staff. The document will be used as the basis for fact sheets, case studies and guidelines to help the community take an active role in their urban environment.

One of the GreenStreet’s  key directions is Urban Food Production, including guidelines for planting gardens on nature strips. The nature strip planting guidelines include a list of what should be avoided when amending nature strips to maintain a safe and accessible public realm. If these conditions are met, permission is not required to plant nature strips. To assist the community in understanding how nature strips can be altered safely, the strategy proposes that positive case studies and best practice examples be developed as part of nature strip guidelines which are made available on line.

Alison Breach, Coordinator Public Realm, invited the group to brainstorm ideas for incorporating urban food production into the streetscapes of Darebin to enhance food security and help improve the health of the community and environment.  The ideas put forward will be assessed as part of the final consultation stage which is almost complete. The plan is to take the strategy to Council for approval in late May. Acceptance of the strategy would commit Council to investing in publically accessible spaces for urban food production and community gardening throughout the municipality. Proposed actions to achieve this are to create and implement an Urban Food Production Strategy and increase the opportunities for establishing community gardens in Darebin.

For more information please contact Alison Breach on

Community Food Gardens Mapping Proposal

Transition Darebin approached Darebin City Council to develop a map of potential community food gardens and other food production sites in Darebin. In response, Council resolved to consult with Transition Darebin as well as internal officers who manage council buildings and other assets to identify:

  • Potential food garden sites and
  • Key considerations for assessing the suitability of a site.

Libby Hynes, Manager Environment and Natural Resources, tabled a map of existing community gardens as well as potential future sites. Participants were asked to:

  1. Review the map and add any key potential sites they felt were missing and,
  2. Discuss and document the most important considerations for identifying potential food / community garden sites.

The exercise identified a number of additional potential sites:

  • Within or adjacent to parks and sports grounds (especially where co-located with community group meeting places such as halls/clubhouses)
  • Council land / building sites
  • Other public land such as VicTrack land (particularly along train stations), schools, Melbourne Water land and public housing estates

As with all proposed uses for public land, a process is required to establish need, priorities, conflicting uses, effects on amenity and resourcing before Council can commit to any of these sites for a community or food garden.

As a result of the Community Food Garden mapping exercise, Council has endorsed the recommendation that an assessment and consultation process be developed for considering community food garden locations as part of the Urban Food Production Strategy development.

For more information please contact Lee Tozzi on

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