Posts Tagged ‘urban agriculture’

Urban food security, urban resilience and climate change: Australian report

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on August 2nd, 2013

Guerrilla Garden_fullyreclined_BY
Photo by fullyreclined via flickr CC

The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) report on urban food and climate change is now available for download.

Food security is increasingly recognised as a problem in developed countries like Australia as well as in developing countries of the global south, and as a problem facing cities and urban populations in these countries. Despite producing more food than is consumed in Australia, certain groups in particular, places are finding it increasingly difficult to access nutritious and healthy food at affordable prices. Moreover, whole urban populations have found their food supply lines severely compromised by major disasters such as floods and cyclones which are expected to have greater impacts as the climate changes.

This changing landscape of food production, distribution and consumption has drawn attention to the nature of contemporary urban food systems in general and to the security and resilience of urban food systems in particular. This has in turn highlighted the extent of urban agriculture and its potential to play a greater role in strengthening the food security of Australian cities and building urban resilience in a changing climate.

This report presents the results of a synthesis and integrative research project that explored these issues through a critical review of relevant literature and case study research in two cities. It had three main aims:

  • to increase our knowledge of the current extent of urban agriculture in Australian cities;
  • to review its capacity to play a more prominent role in enhancing urban food security and urban resilience and;
  • to assess the impacts of climate change on the capacity of urban agriculture to enhance food security and urban resilience.

The research provides much needed up-to-date information on the extent of current urban agricultural practices, a critical review of good practice in Australia and beyond and an analysis of the opportunities and barriers to the expansion of these practices, especially in the face of climate change.

Visit the website to download the full report.

Please cite this report as:
Burton, P, Lyons, K, Richards, C, Amati, M, Rose, N, Desfours, L, Pires, V, Barclay, R, 2013, Urban food security, urban resilience and climate change, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, pp.176.

Food-Security and Water-Security in the Urban Context

Posted in Research, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on June 20th, 2013


Image: CRC for Water-Sensitive Cities

Image: CRC for Water-Sensitive Cities

From The urban water-energy-food nexus by Prof. Tony Wong:


Australia’s water consumption is dominated by agricultural uses, followed by consumptions in cities (domestic and industrial) and for electricity generation principally to meet demands in our cities. Our communities have an important role in managing demands. Our consumption of food, energy and water remains inefficient. We waste more than 30% of food produced, we are only beginning to recycle our wastewater for non-drinking purposes, and we do not capture and use the ‘waste heat’ from our electricity production. Transforming our cities to a more sustainable and efficient consumption of resources require socio-technical approaches, starting with a concerted effort to foster community awareness and behavioural change for efficient consumption of water, energy and food. Exploiting the water-energy nexus in urban development, such as district-level tri-generation and the further utilisation of available heat for water disinfection and production of district-level reticulation of hot water, are simple cathartic initiatives to lead this transformation.

The creation of productive landscapes is emerging as a core element of urban green infrastructure strategies. Our cities are water supply catchments with the combined stormwater and wastewater resources exceeding the water consumption in most Australian cities. These resources may be exploited to support a greener city for a multitude of liveability objectives, including the support of productive landscapes ranging from community gardens, to orchards and urban forests.

>> Read the full article by Prof. Tony Wong on the CRC for Water-Sensitive Cities website.

Crowdfund a Local Documentary: Melbourne’s Growing Food Project

Posted in Seeking by Kate Archdeacon on April 11th, 2013

Growing Food Project_Screen Grab

The Growing Food Project is a short documentary exploring some of Melbourne’s urban agriculture practices and community food projects, where people are coming together to build local, fair and sustainable food systems.

There is a thriving energy of empowered local communities responding to food access and sustainability issues that aim to strengthen the way we produce and distribute local food. Community food projects improve the way we eat, reconnect us with nature, build relationships between neighbours and enhance our food culture.

The Growing Food Project is a documentary exploring some of Melbourne’s urban agriculture practices and alternative food systems, particularly those existing in the city’s inner north. By documenting and telling these amazing stories, this short film will capture the possibilities and practical solutions that lie in people’s hands & strengthen our local food system.

Our story so far… We have been filming at various community gardens and local food initiatives since Nov. 2012 and we now have a big job of editing ahead! Money raised from this campaign will go towards post-production and help us pay someone do a brilliant job at it.

Costs include: a professional editor, grading, sound design, sound mixing etc.

So far this project has been a labour of love by a team of committed volunteers, without any funding at all. However, we need your help to get the film out there!


Reclaim the Curb Competition

Posted in Movements, Seeking, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on April 5th, 2013


We like food fresh, fair and free. We like curb-sides that enrich and connect people. We’d like to support people that are inspired by the same things.

Reclaim the Curb, with support from Cultivating Community is making a minimum of $1,500 available to share across 3 exciting projects that put people and food, together, on curb-sides across Australia.

Competition entries should address the following requirements:

  • The project must use food as a way to activate an existing curb-side, or build on already active curb-sides. For example, planting fruit trees or making planter boxes that enhance curb-sides and streetscapes.
  • Must be implemented by October 2013
  • Projects should consider how simple infrastructure can support social exchange around food – or example, a food box for protecting food stuffs that can be swapped and shared by passersby, or a table and chairs that people can sit at and enjoy
  • Demonstrate that residents and businesses local to the project have been consulted, and are supportive of the plan
  • Demonstrate that the plan complies with local council requirements, or at a minimum:
    • Is safe
    • Does not obstruct passing foot or vehicle traffic, including space for opening car-doors
    • Has a maintenance plan to ensure the space is well kept
  • And include:
    • Details of the site including the address, photos, video’s or drawings
    • Details of the project plan including visual and verbal descriptions
    • Documentation that shows the project requirements listed above have been addressed

Three winners will be selected by a panel with representatives across the food activist field (more details on this to come, tune into the blog and facebook).

The prize money is currently $1,500 and will grow by the time the finalists are announced in May 31. The money will be used to pay for trees, seeds and manure/compost/clean soil. Winners will be expected to source their own materials including timber, spades, tools and other equipment used to build structures required for the project. If you wish to support this project please email reclaimthecurb (at) Send questions and entries to reclaimthecurb (at) gmail.

Deadline is 5pm 31st May 2013.


Potential Urban Orchards: City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Consultations

Posted in Events, Seeking by Kate Archdeacon on April 4th, 2013

6 April , 2013
10:00 amto11:00 am
20 April , 2013
10:00 amto11:00 am
4 May , 2013
10:00 amto11:00 am

Pear-Shaped_London Apple Festival 030
Photo: Roots to Fruit

If we want council to consider productive street trees in Melbourne, we need to ask for them – that was the message when some of the Urban Forest team participated in the EcoCity Food Forum a couple of weeks ago, and it was also clear that they are really keen to get diverse and plentiful public feedback on the Urban Forest Strategy.  There are three more workshops left to run in the consultation process.  Feedback can also be posted directly to the Urban Forest website.

From the Urban Forest Conversation website:

We invite you to share your thoughts and opinions about the development of the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest.

The City’s Urban Forest Strategy provides a robust framework for the evolution and longevity of our urban forest but what will that look like at an individual street level? Join the conversation to influence the plan for your neighbourhood’s trees. In 2013, we are developing the plans for the urban forest in Carlton, East Melbourne, South Yarra and the CBD.

Join the conversation online through this forum, post your comments on our urban forest map or participate in a workshop to influence the plans for your neighbourhood’s trees. You can register for a workshop via the key links on the right hand side of the Urban Forest page.

Register for Upcoming Workshops:


Food for thought? Some thoughts on productive trees in public space:

“Edible Street Verge Gardening is something that has been going on for the past 20 years or so in our cities but is now capturing the public imagination such that the number of plantings is rapidly increasing.  For advocates of edible landscaping in our cities, this is good news but for local government the practice can be confusing. What has become apparent during the recent upsurge in the popularity of edible footpath planting is that a set of design and planting guidelines are desperately needed.  Most verge plantings to date have been created by gardeners who know what they are doing. The possibility emerging from the current boost in popularity is that those less knowledgeable will create gardens with inappropriate plants and without considering other footpath users.”

“The biggest objections to planting food-bearing plants in public spaces have always been, and will likely continue to be, maintenance and aesthetics.  Public officials are quick to point out that edibles are messy and difficult to maintain, precluding their use in the urban environment. … These concerns are often based largely on misconception and subjectivity.  still, many of these concerns can be addressed with an understanding that maintenance and aesthetics can be balanced by choosing certain plants over others, mixing edibles with ornamentals, utilizing existing maintenance staff and methods, and properly gauging community demand for fresh, local produce.”

“The City of Yarra recognises the importance of urban agriculture in supporting community sustainability, especially in times of changing climate and the myriad of associated issues such as food security due to diminishing oil supplies. Neighbourhood gardening using productive trees1 is recognised by Council as a form of Urban Agriculture that can be used by local communities to create sustainable, resilient and liveable neighbourhoods in an effective and meaningful way. Planting productive trees is considered by Council to be an effective, means of inspiring and enabling community food production in the City of Yarra by generating environmental, social and economic wellbeing from the ground up – created for and by local people. Planting productive trees can be initiated, operated and maintained by the local community with support from Council. Council’s Guidelines and registration process will assist in making neighbourhood gardening with productive trees effective, enjoyable and safe for all.”

“We’ve all seen trees over laden with fruit that the trees owner isn’t eating. Generally the tree is in somebody’s garden where it can’t be reached from the street, and in these days of lost community and increasing crime it’s kind of hard to randomly approach people for fruits. There must be a way that more community food can be grown. There are many families where the kids don’t get enough nutrition, especially in the form of fruit, where dinner is straight from the freezer into the microwave. Yuck! I know of two parks where fruit is grown for the public to eat. One is Gourley Park in East Freo, the other is King William Park in South Freo. There must be scope for more. I know some people are concerned about fruit fly (and others who unfortunately aren’t concerned enough), but not all fruit attracts those rotten pests. It’s already common to see tasty loquats ignored in gardens , so we don’t need to add to the burden of fruit fly. There’s plenty of other varieties to choose from and if it was well known that the fruit was available and folk were educated about when to pick it there wouldn’t be lots of rotten fruit around to attract nasties. […]

Free fruit could be the only fruit so what can be grown that wouldn’t cause problems? Some nuts would be a good start. Almonds are good and grow well around here. Macadamias do well in some areas around Perth. They’ll also feed black cockatoos. Bunya pine nuts are pretty good, but need cordoning off in autumn (as they do in Hyde Park, Perth) because people have been killed when the huge cones of seeds drop on their head! Not a tree to sit under at the best of times with their wickedly spiny leaves, but much more useful that its oft’ planted relative the Norfolk Island pine!! Many kinds of citrus would be suitable with the right care. […] There’s a fantastic tree called Ziziphus jujuba, commonly called Chinese date, which grows numerous little apple like fruit about the size of olives. They are a tough species which provide a common meeting place in some desert countries, providing shade and food that can be eaten fresh or preserved for later use. Olives are good public trees with very useful fruit (though obviously not good for hand to mouth browsing). There are a few bush tucker foods that could be grown too, such as muntries/muntari (Kunzea pomifera), a creeping member of the Myrtaceae family, which has pretty white flowers followed by tasty little apple like berries. It grows on the east coast and is often sold in Perth. Quandongs are a native species which has deep red skins on pretty nuts. Some bush foods require some retraining of the taste buds, but they are generally pest and disease free, and don’t need help once established. Obviously somebody would need to be looking after these things, but if parks had more community input and a little council money to feed the trees a few times a year and have them drip irrigated they could become important meeting and snacking places. Parks could even be designed to be useful on purpose!!”



Edible Weeds in Australia: Guidebook

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on November 2nd, 2012

The Weed Forager’s Handbook: A Guide to Edible and Medicinal Weeds in Australia

Step into the world of our least-admired botanical companions, peel back the layers of prejudice, and discover the finer side of the plants we call weeds. An astonishing number are either edible or medicinal, and have deep and sometimes bizarre connections to human history.

  • But how do you distinguish a tasty sandwich-filler from its dangerous look-alike?
  • Which of these garden familiars is the most nutritious vegetable ever tested by the US Dept of Agriculture?
  • How do you cook with delicious nettles without fear of being stung?

This book reveals all this and more, and will forever change your concept of where to go looking for lunch.

Authors: Adam Grubb and Annie Raser-Rowland (foreword by Costa Georgiadis)


Wanted: CERES Aquaponics Farmer

Posted in Models, Seeking by Kate Archdeacon on July 17th, 2012


Do you have what it takes to run a small hi-tec urban farm as a professional farmer growing high value crops and selling them direct to niche markets and through a veggie box system? We’re looking for a super motivated and entrepreneurial urban farmer to run our Aquaponic Food Hub system as part of our Food Hubs urban farming research project. This is a contract position – we are looking for a farmer who will run our established system (produces 400-700 vegetable units/week), keeping the profit in exchange for pushing the system’s productive potential and helping us document what yields are possible. The position is supported with training and mentorship.

Download the Position Description: Aquaponics Farmer PD July 2012 or go to the job description on the CERES site.

Edible Gardens in Small Urban Spaces: Information Session

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on July 4th, 2012

16 July , 2012
7:00 amto8:00 am

Photo via VEG site

Find out more about creating edible gardens in small urban spaces in an information session at the Richmond Library on Monday 16 July, from 7pm.

The session will be hosted by Very Edible Gardens (VEG), permaculture design and education experts. Very Edible Gardens was highly commended in the Business category of Yarra’s 2011 Sustainability Awards. Their concept of creating edible ecosystems has inspired communities globally. Adam Grubb, co-founder of Very Edible Gardens, will run an information–packed session on creating edible gardens in small urban spaces.

This free event will be held at Richmond Library (415 Church Street), from 7pm-8pm on Monday July 16.
Places are limited and bookings are essential.

Contact Yarra Libaries on 1300 695 427 or email

Growing Green Guide for Melbourne

Posted in Movements, Policies by Kate Archdeacon on May 23rd, 2012

Photoshop image from Do It On The Roof, a campaign for (public) green roofs in Melbourne

From an InDesignLive article by Annie Reid:

Picture this – Melbourne’s city rooftops covered in lush greenery. It may sound fanciful, but a new project launched last week by the City of Melbourne is hoping to green our buildings and houses for good.

The Growing Green Guide for Melbourne was fittingly presented on the rooftop garden of the council’s CH2 building, and will be produced by the Inner Melbourne Action Plan (IMAP) comprising the 4 inner city councils – Melbourne, Yarra, Stonnington and Port Phillip – as well as the University of Melbourne.

The project will comprise a ‘how to’ handbook guide on constructing a green roof or wall, and help people consider all the aspects they need to cover before transforming these spaces into vegetated, leafy habitats. It will also identify prime sites for the future development of green roofs, walls and façades in inner Melbourne, says The University of Melbourne’s senior lecturer, John Rayner.


Read the full article by Annie Reid or visit the City of Melbourne Growing Green Guide site.

Leading the Way: City of Yarra’s Urban Agriculture Guidelines

Posted in Models, Movements, Policies by Jessica Bird on April 16th, 2012


From “A triumph for community gardening” by Thomas, YCAN Local Action Group

One of the most exciting things in Community Gardening happened last weekend. You might have missed it, because it was without fanfare, and very localised: Maud and Neil put up a planter box on a streetside close to where they live. You don’t feel excited? You should do, because this was the first streetside planter box to be installed under the City of Yarra new guidelines. And the City of Yarra guidelines are very progressive. More than that, Yarra are the first local council to employ an officer to facilitate the application of urban agriculture. For that, we congratulate them. The first permit took four months to issue, as all issues of all the relevant departments, and all the bureaucracy and risk aversion of public service had to be negotiated. Without a facilitator, this would have been impossible. The normal reaction of Council would have been to play it safe, and simply reject the concept of planter boxes, nature strip planting, fruit trees and all other forms of urban agriculture in public space. The normal reaction would be to keep things as they are, but the City of Yarra didn’t do this, and they are leading the way, with the eyes of other councils and organisations upon them.

The recent events in Princess Hill, where a divided local reaction stopped the proposal for a community garden on parkland, has demonstrates more stongly than ever that Yarra’s Urban Agriculture Facilitator is needed. It’s not suprising that some urban residents don’t want to loose public open space; it’s equally not surprising that some urban residents feel the strong need to grow some of their own food. The compromise is to use marginal space, like Maud and Neil have: their planter box is on a slight raised area that is neither foot path or road, it is just separation space. The planter box doesn’t interfere with lines of sight or access. It appears from the very short time it has been there to recieve overwhelming support from locals.

But this small scale, decentralised model needs more effort to work, and local residents just don’t have the know-how to get through the local government bureaucracy, and local government departments just don’t have the incentive to deal with local residents on these issues and coordinate with other departments. And because we are talking about marginal space, it is always at the margins of responsiblity.

This is why the Urban Agriculture Facilitator role is so essential. If the role is lost, all the good work that has been done up to now will be wasted. Yarra’s leading position will be lost. It is currently a part time role, but it needs to be increased to five days a week. Time is needed in processing applications and granting permits, and all the communication that involves. In addition available land needs to be put on an inventory, a more robust grants system is needed, more resources are needed for residents of our city, and time needs to be spent on promotion and education.

You can read more about urban agriculture and community gardening in the City of Yarra here, or you can download a pdf of their Guidelines for Neighbourhood Gardening – Planter Boxes.