Report calls for preservation of Melbourne's foodbowl

The Foodprint Melbourne team at the University of Melbourne has released a new report, Roadmap for a resilient and sustainable Melbourne foodbowl, which makes the case for increasing the resilience of Melbourne’s foodbowl as a fundamental building block in a sustainable, healthy and equitable food system for the city.

This report outlines a vision and roadmap, developed through a collaborative process involving a wide range of stakeholders, for preserving Melbourne’s foodbowl for current and future generations.

Key elements include:

  • Planning for a sustainable and resilient city foodbowl requires an integrated policy approach;

  • Five key pillars of policy action underpin a resilient and sustainable city foodbowl – farmland protection, farm viability, water access, nutrient recycling and sustainable farming;

  • Farmland should be permanently protected on Melbourne’s fringe by maintaining Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary, mapping agricultural land and introducing a new agricultural ‘zone’;

  • Promoting the viability of farming in Melbourne’s foodbowl is as important as protecting farmland;

  • Farm viability should be promoted by investing in infrastructure that enables small-medium scale farmers to gain greater control of supply chains, ensuring that peri-urban producers are able to access relevant funding streams and applying local government ‘farm rates’ to all actively farmed land;

  • Water reuse for food production should be increased to address water scarcity in a warming climate;

  • Water reuse should be increased by adopting an integrated water management approach to managing water assets in farming areas, developing integrated assessment frameworks to cost delivery of recycled water and investigating options for greater reuse of storm water;

  • City foodbowls offer opportunities to close the loop by returning valuable nutrients from city organic waste back to the soil;

  • Nutrient recycling on farm should be promoted by preventing contamination of organic waste streams, collaborating with farmers to develop ‘fit for purpose’ compost products and establishing a Melbourne Nutrient Recycling Network;

  • Sustainable farming should be incentivised in Melbourne’s foodbowl;

  • Sustainable farming approaches should be incentivised through local government rate rebates, direct payments and extension services aimed at peri-urban farmers;

  • A diverse range of sustainable farming approaches should be promoted to increase the resilience of the city’s food system, including regenerative and agroecological approaches as well as sustainable intensification and closed-environment agriculture.

Foodprint Melbourne is run by an inter-faculty team at the University of Melbourne and is funded by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.

Other partners include the City of Melbourne, Mornington Peninsula Shire, Wyndham City, Cardinia Shire Council, City of Whittlesea, the Interface Councils, the Peri Urban Group of Rural Councils, the Port Phillip and Westernport CMA and LeadWest.

The report is available here.

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