About Sustain


Sustain: The Australian Food Network

Sustain works for the transition to a food system that supports flourishing communities and ecosystems. Sustain was formed in 2015, incorporated as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee in 2016, and is a deductible gift recipient charity registered with the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission.


Sustain’s mission is to catalyse meaningful and powerful connections to enable the emergence of a flourishing, healthy and democratic food system.

We realise this mission through the provision of food systems advice and consultancy services for the promotion and development of healthy, economically viable and sustainable food systems.


Sustain concentrates its work on the following areas of expertise:

  • Community engagement and capacity building– create networks and connect food system actors through dynamic events, resources, tools, forums and workshops
  • Leadership – shape the food system conversation and knowledge base
  • Research, consultancy and education – undertake and communicate food systems research and consultancy across Australia


In the past 18 months, Sustain has achieved the following:

  • Consultancy:
    Jointly conducted Food Hub economic feasibility studies with the City of Greater Bendigo, Wangaratta Food for All Alliance, and the City of Wyndham,
    – Conducted food systems assessments and community food system engagement activities with the City of Whittlesea, the City of Wyndham, Yarra Ranges Shire Council, the Grampians Food Alliance, Cooktown Shire Council (FNQ) and Augusta-Margaret River Shire Council (WA);
    – Negotiated, designed and commenced implementation of a five-year, $500,000 food system collective impact project with Cardinia Shire Council, Cardinia Food Circles, involving Monash Health, Richmond AFL Club, Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation and many other stakeholders including local producers and the Victorian food industry
  • Research:
    Published a review on the role of Agribusiness Extension Officers for economic development in local government
    – published a 60-page pilot study into the Bendigo Local Food Economy involving interviews with multiple businesses, producers, council staff and community organisations
    – Conducted visits to and interviews with representatives of 14 universities and community colleges in Ontario and Quebec and submitted a report to the members of the Victorian TAFE Food and Fibre Coalition on the role of the vocational training sector in supporting local and regional economic development and entrepreneurship (available on request)
    – Published a mapping and review of urban agriculture and related strategies and programmes across 18 local councils ;
    – Supported the publication of the groundbreaking Foodprint Melbourne research published by the Victorian Eco Innovation lab
  • Leadership and network building:
    – Facilitated regular meetings of the Local Government Urban Agriculture Network with staff from more than 15 local councils, and worked with the VLGA to establish a Food Governance Taskforce that developed position papers on the role of local government in economic development, health and wellbeing, and planning
    – Designed and populated an Australian Food Systems Directory with more than 340 listings of organisations, research, policies, projects, events, infrastructure and people to make visible the food systems sector in Australia
  • Events:
    Coordinated an inaugural Community Food Hubs Conference and Tour(August 2016) with over 750 participants
    – Coordinated a national Urban Agriculture Forum and tour (November 2016) with over 500 participants; and jointly supported the 21st Symposium of Australian Gastronomy (December 2016) with 140 participants
    – Partnered with the Sustainable Living Festival to host an ‘Urban Agriculture Series’ in February 2017 with more than 30 events


The Board of Sustain contains representation from several leading food-systems organisations:

Executive Director

Dr Nick Rose has extensive policy, research and practical experience with food systems, food security and food sovereignty. A Churchill Fellow and a Global Advisor to the United Nations Global Compact Cities Programme, he has researched the potential of urban agriculture in the United States, Canada, Argentina and Australia to address food security, resilience and sustainability challenges. He is editor of Fair Food: Stories from a Movement Changing the World (Penguin, 2015). He was the principal founder and former national co-ordinator of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (2010-2015). He has worked in advisory and consultancy capacities with local governments in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia. In addition to his role with Sustain, he teaches and researches food systems and food studies at William Angliss Institute.

Membership of the Australian Food Network

Sustain is actively seeking membership of institutions and organisations to build the Australian Food Network. Members of this Network will work together towards the building of healthy, sustainable and fair food system that benefit all Australians.

Benefits of Membership

Members of this Network will receive the following benefits and outcomes:

  • Collaborate as part of a community of practice, sharing lessons and learning from research, policy and project work. The Local Government Urban Agriculture Network that Sustain has facilitated since September 2013 is now expanding its membership to include community representatives and researchers. This Network has collaborated over the past year, with the VLGA, to generate a position paper articulating the role of local government in supporting healthy, sustainable and thriving food systems. Sustain is also supporting the formation of a Victoria-wide aligned network of existing and emerging local and regional food alliances, e.g.

    – Bendigo Regional Food Alliance
    – Wangaratta Food for All Alliance
    – Grampians Food Alliance
    – Regional Food Network (Monash Health)
    – Cardinia Food Network (in formation)
    – Casey Fresh Food Network (in formation)
    – Wyndham Food Alliance (in formation)
    – Moreland Food Coalition (proposed)

  • Access discounted support in the organisation of local / regional food economy and food systems events. Sustain worked with the City of Greater Bendigo and Bendigo Kangan Institute in the hosting of the national Community Food Hubs conference in August 2016, and with Augusta-Margaret River Shire Council in the hosting of two Agricultural Summits in 2016. In March 2017 Sustain organised a dedicated locally-catered lunch for 45 staff of RACV at its Noble Park head office, featuring Dr Nick Rose and My Smart Garden coordinator Kat Lavers as keynote speakers. Sustain is partnering with William Angliss Institute, Rocket Seeder, and Cardinia Shire Council in a special event for Melbourne Knowledge Week to be held on Thursday 4 May
  • Have discounted access to research and consultancy services, and attendance at food systems conferences and events organised by Sustain
  • Connect to emerging research collaborations in food security, and food law, policy and governance
  • Link to affiliated national and international alliances and coalitions, such as the Right to Food Coalitionand the Global Cities Compact Programme

  • Work with students and interns as part of a community-engaged learning program
  • Be named and have a profile on the Sustain website, showcasing existing policies, strategies, programs, initiatives and achievements
  • Access tools and resources used in Australia and internationally in the development of local and regional food systems and economies
  • Have access (as funding permits) in specified pilot locations to an experienced regional co-ordinator linked with community local and regional food networks and practitioner
  • Collaborate on shared advocacy agendas at the regional, state and national levels

Annual Membership Cost

Industry associations / Local governments / public sector organisations – tiered $750–$3500

Not for profit organisations / Businesses – tiered from $150 – $1500

Individuals – $50

Friends of the Australian Food Network – no cost

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