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

The community helps with Darebin’s new Urban Food Production Strategy

At the Sustainable Food Leaders forum on December 3rd 2013, Darebin Council Sustainable Food Officer Lee Tozzi presented some of the background and drivers behind Council’s commitment to developing an Urban Food Production Strategy.

Although a relatively new area, food production and supply is firmly on Council’s sustainability agenda. The community has clearly identified growing food as a priority area, and the Council Plan as well as many underpinning Plans, Policies and Strategies highlight the importance of local food production for sustainability across social, economic and built / natural environmental factors, such as improving health and well-being, social connectivity, waste recycling and efficient water use (see chart below).

The strategy will clarify Council’s vision and role in Urban Food Production, within it’s current responsibilities i.e:

  • Public Land Management
  • Planning Authority (under the constraints of the planning scheme)
  • Identify and bring stakeholders together and facilitate partnerships to deliver sustainability objectives
  • Advocate for and promote funding opportunities
  • Education and skills building programs
  • Support for community groups to build social connections, promote health and reduce environmental impacts

The strategy also aims to streamline and make clear the process for assessing potential community food garden sites on Council land. This needs to consider:

  • Land ownership
  • Land use restrictions /priorities
  • Contamination
  • Planning overlays
  • Accessibility
  • Security and public risk
  • Water resources and management

Forum participants were asked to contribute their ideas towards the strategy’s objectives by having a discussion in their groups around the following questions:

  1. What are the key questions you would like to see the Urban Food Production Strategy address in Darebin?
  2. What would a great Urban Food Production Strategy for Darebin look like (from a community perspective)?

If you have additional input you would like to provide, please contact Lee Tozzi on 8470 8392  or email

Here is a summary of the great suggestions put forward so far:

Key Questions:

  • How can commercial food production be enabled?
  • How can social enterprise be incorporated into food production, creating employment?
  • How the strategy be inclusive of the whole Darebin Community?
  • How can the strategy genuinely address food insecurity?
  • How can the strategy contribute to increased food diversity within Darebin?
  • How can Council support growing edibles which are harder to grow at home eg. fruit and nut trees, chooks, as well as facilitate their ownership and management by the community?
  • What programs / schemes can Council provide which support people to develop and manage urban food production
  • How can existing Food Production initiatives be better promoted and linked in with complementary activities / groups?

A great Urban Food Production Strategy is one which:

  • Has been well researched
  • Considers the entire scope / diversity of  Urban Agriculture options available
  • Includes Urban Agriculture Design Guidelines
  • Incorporates waste management principles
  • Integrates Food Production with effective water use and management eg. Water Sensitive Urban Design, Office of Living Victoria whole-of-water cycle management principles.
  • Addresses the resilience of urban food production for future generations
  • Uses plain language
  • Encompasses different cultures, languages and geographic areas within Darebin
  • Is accessible and easily understood and owned by a community which values urban food production

Further community and internal consultation will continue over the coming months with a draft strategy due by April 2014

Darebin Council Support for Urban Food Production

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