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

Sustainable Food Leaders Forum 3rd Dec 2013

We had 22 passionate community members join us for a great evening of discussion and networking at the second Sustainable Food Leaders Forum for 2013 at Council offices on Tuesday 3rd December.

The forum provided feedback and sought community input to some important sustainable food and food security initiatives at Darebin Council:

Naturestrip Planting Guidelines

Alison Breach, Coordinator Public Realm at Darebin Council stepped the group through the updated Naturestrip Guidelines which provide practical user friendly information to the community about how to plant naturestrips safely and effectively and which meet Councils GreenStreets Streetscape Strategy. These incorporate the feedback provided at the last Forum in March as well as other community and internal feedback.

The final Green Streets Streetscape Strategy and well as the Naturestrip Planting Guidelines are now available for reference and use:

GreenStreets Streetscape Strategy 2012 – 2020

Naturestrip Planting Guidelines and Application Form

A case study presented by local Northcote resident Anne Martinelli showcased a successful example in Jackson Street.  The whole street and surrounding community were invited to contribute to the planning and building of the garden, with the consultation process facilitated through Jika Jika Community Centre. This is a great example of how a project like this can build community connectedness. See a Youtube Clip of how the process worked here.

Jackson Street Naturestrip Garden




Jackson Street Naturestrip Garden 2








All Nations Food Forest Project

Darebin Council Landscape Architect Jules Martin outlined the results of the first stage of community consultation on the All Nations Park Food Forest proposal (All Nations Food Forest). There was a great response from the community to the invitation to submit ideas and comments. Some of the popular ideas include nut and other food trees too large for most backyards, trialing bush or native foods, companion planting and incorporating interpretive signage and art. There was some confusion over the term ‘food security’ with Council clarifying that the forest is aiming to inspire more food growing in urban areas as well as being a source of knowledge for other Darebin food growing projects. Together these projects will help address food insecurity in Darebin. The community will be invited to harvest food from All Nations Food Forest however it is not envisaged the forest will supply significant quantities of food to Darebin residents.

More information (including a site map) can be found here

The next stage involves developing a concept plan which incorporates the communities ideas. To have your say on the concept, join Council officers at the  Northcote Library Food Garden where they will be discussing the project in conjunction with the Sustainable Living Festival event “Making Vertical Gardens from Pallets” on Sunday 16 February from 10:30am – 12:30pm.  (See separate post under Upcoming Events) For more information please contact Jules Martin on: Ph: (03) 8470 8435 or Email:


3000acres Concept to use VicTrack land in Darebin for Urban Agriculture

Chris Renkin from 3000acres outlined a new initiative funded by VicHealth to unlock unused and underutilised land for food growing in Darebin as well as the wider Melbourne metropolitan area. 3000acres aims to build a platform to connect people to land, resources and each other so that more people can grow more food in more places. They are built environment professionals who act as a bridge between grassroots & policy, facilitating collaboration and partnerships to help cities establish localised food systems. For more information about 3000acres, go to and join their mailing list and complete the survey. The Open Source website can be tested at

Council is working with 3000acres, VicTrack and different community groups to potentially develop land along the rail corridors in Darebin for food growing and other initiatives promoting health and social connectedness. See maps of some of the proposals by different community groups to develop VicTrack Land in Darebin here. (Note these are just some examples – there are many groups working on a range of exciting VicTrack and other urban renewal projects in Darebin). Council is due to report back in February 2014 on a list of sites / stations for possible improvement works and strategies to engage and consult residents in the process.


Update on 2013-17 Community Health and Well-Being Plan

At the last Sustainable Food Leaders Forum in March, participants agreed Council could support food security and sustainable food in the Community Health and Well-Being Plan through the following areas:

  1. Spaces: supporting fruit and vegetable growing on nature strips, vacant land and public space and more diverse and accessible community gardens
  2. Education: workshops, showcasing, celebrating, skill development, mentoring and resources.
  3. Partnerships: between agencies to better connect the production and the distribution of excess food.

Jess Fraser, Darebin Council Community Well-Being Team Leader showed how these have been integrated into the updated Community Health and Well-Being Plan. For example:

Objective 4.1:  To ensure  health and wellbeing considerations inform the planning and design of Darebin’s built  and natural environment.

The strategy is to promote and embed health and wellbeing principles in all strategic planning and urban design policies. A priority action to achieve this is to coordinate and advocate for the consideration and inclusion of public open spaces with trees, plantings and provision for food growing as part of new housing developments.

Objective 5.2: To promote food security, healthy eating and safe food provision for all Darebin people

The strategies to achieve this are:

5.2.1 Continue to implement and monitor Darebin’s Food Security Policy and  develop an Urban Food Production Strategy

5.2.2 Ensure and increase healthy food alternatives into all Darebin community events

5.2.3 Utilise food growing and preparation; and diverse food cultures to facilitate community connections and understanding

5.2.3 Consider social enterprise models  for healthy food provision for people who experience food insecurity

5.2.4 Investigate and develop Council’s role in regulating the sites and distribution of food outlets and increasing the availability of healthier, fresh food options in these outlets

The priority actions to achieve these are:

  • Investigate, engage and develop a Darebin Healthy Catering Policy implemented internally and  across Council sponsored community events
  • Support and integrate food security and healthy eating initiatives as part of existing community groups and social support programs with a  focus on Aboriginal people and  newly arrived people, including refugees, migrants and asylum seekers
  • Develop integrated and responsive programs which empower people to healthier food purchasing and preparation, increase regular physical activity  and to seek support to give up smoking, as part of neighbourhood development (Neighbourhood Action Plans)
  • Support and advocate for increased community gardens in neighbourhoods where there is significant social and economic disadvantage both for local fresh food production and to integrate intergenerational opportunities and involvement

Next Steps:

  1. Development of action plan
  2. Review of 2010 -2014 food security policy and development of new policy from mid 2014.


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