City of Yarra, Urban Agriculture Policy Stapshot

City of Yarra Council Urban Agriculture Policy Snapshot

Yarra UA StrategyThe City of Yarra is regarded as a leader both in Victoria and nationally in enacting policies and strategies that specifically address sustainability and global environmental change. With its long history of food growing, urban agriculture in particular has been a priority for Yarra. As well as promoting and supporting urban agriculture within its own municipal boundaries, the City of Yarra initiated the Local Government Urban Agriculture Network in December 2012 as a mechanism to facilitate inter-Council discussion and learning on a regular basis. Sustain has been facilitating this Network since September 2013

Background and Overview

Following on from the Community Gardens Advisory Committee (2009/2010), in 2012 the Yarra Urban Agriculture Advisory Committee (YUAAC) was established to support the community in the development of urban agriculture and work with Council to facilitate its growth. Their first role was to assist in the development of The Urban Agriculture Guidelines (2011) (2016, City of Yarra). In 2011 an Urban Agriculture facilitator was employed to work with the community, providing advice on the implementation of urban agriculture in the public environment, facilitating partnerships and coordinating training and education in urban agriculture (2016, City of Yarra).

In addition to the strategies, plans, policies and guidelines that specifically address urban agriculture (Urban Agriculture Strategy (2014-2018), The Urban Agriculture Guidelines (2011)) council has a number of other strategies and guidelines that recognize urban agriculture as being an important component of their overall success and achievement

Review of Policies, Plans and Procedures Addressing Urban Agriculture and Related Areas

Name of Document Reference to Urban Agriculture and Related Areas
The Urban Agriculture Guidelines (2011) Guidelines for Community Gardens: Employs a dedicated UA facilitator

  • Provides advice on planning, building and operating community gardens
  • Workshops on composting, warm farming, permaculture, water efficiency, etc
  • Community groups are able to use the Council’s website to promote community operated gardens
  • Information and contact details for community garden networks
  • Information about relevant grants for community gardens

Guidelines for Nature Strips and Garden Beds, Guidelines for Planter Boxes, Guidelines for Productive Trees & The Neighborhood Gardening Agreement

  • Outlines best practices and due diligence in securing a suitable and safe site, securing neighborhood support, and obtaining council permit.

(2011, City of Yarra)

Yarra Environment Strategy (YES) (2013-2017) Provides direction and the recommended actions required to integrate sustainable practices into Council’s operations, as well as into its community programs and services. The emphasis is on community empowerment and creating agency. The document identifies four pathways to success;

  • Community Empowerment and Local Action (Emphasis on education, supporting community initiatives, and celebrating successes)
  • Urban Ecology and Natural Environment (Emphasis on knowledge and awareness of issues, collaboration, and best practices)
  • Sustainable City Infrastructure and Lifestyles
  • Sustainable Council Operations (Embedding sustainability into decision making, especially best practice water, waste and carbon management)

Closely tied to the objectives of the Council Plan (2013-2017)

Closely tied to Urban Agriculture Strategy (2014-2018) seen in YES Action 1.2.2 – Strengthen Urban Agriculture program

(2013, City of Yarra)

City of Yarra Water Action Plan (2006) Solidifies Yarra’s commitment to sustainable water practices (closely tied to the objectives of the Yarra Environment Strategy)

Three overarching objectives of the plan;

  • Reduce water consumption
  • Improve storm water quality entering the Yarra River and local creeks
  • Demonstrate positive change within Councils to facilitate community action in water conservation and stormwater quality improvement

(2006, City of Yarra)

Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy (2014-2018) The strategy is based on the vision that avoiding and reducing waste will make Yarra more sustainable and increase the availability of resources for current and future citizens

With particular relevance to the Urban Agriculture Strategy is the “Food Know How” program which was developed in partnership with Cultivating Community (www.foodknowhow.org) as a pilot project to emphasise the importance of closing the loop on food waste

In addition, the Council website also provides a range of resources and links for waste and recycling information (compost bins, worm farms, chemical good disposal, etc.)

(2014, City of Yarra)

Carbon Neutral Action Plan (2010-2015) The plan is closely tied to the objectives of both the Council Plan and Yarra Environment Strategy (YES)

  • Outlines fifty seven Council actions linked to responsible units/branches

In addition, the Council website provides links and resources on how to switch over to green power sources and other ways of reducing greenhouse gas pollution

(2010, City of Yarra)

 

Review of Existing or Developing Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Strategies

Yarra’s Urban Agriculture Strategy (2014-2018) was developed as a framework to be used by both council and the community to foster the growth of urban agriculture in Yarra into the future (2014a, City of Yarra). Its implementation is the shared responsibility of Council, the Urban Agriculture facilitator, the Yarra Urban Agriculture Advisory Committee (YUAAC), and the community.

Yarra Council recognises the importance of urban agriculture in the context of global environmental change, urban resilience, food sovereignty and food security, and defines urban agriculture as “a myriad of activities connected with the growing, processing and distribution of food in our urban environment” (2014a, City of Yarra). This recognition is reflected in the integration of urban agriculture into many Council policies and programs. This high level of integration of Yarra’s Urban Agriculture Strategy is seen in the direct reference of urban agriculture in the Council Plan (2013-2017) and its role in the achievement of all five strategic Council objectives. The strategy also makes reference to the role of Urban Agriculture in achieving the major objectives of other Council strategies and plans including; Yarra Environment Strategy (2013-2017), Yarra Health and Wellbeing Plan (2013-2017), Yarra Health Status Report (2010), and Yarra’s Waste and Resource Recovery Program (2014a, City of Yarra).

The Strategy recognizes the multidimensional benefits of urban agriculture, including education and community strengthening, economic, environmental, food security, food equality, safe neighborhoods, health and wellbeing, recreation and fostering food culture (2014b, City of Yarra). There is a clear linkage between strategic objectives, actions, prioritization and feedback, with recognition of the challenges and obstacles (2014a, City of Yarra).

Snapshot & Summary  
Strategy / Framework / NA Strategy
Does the Strategy or Framework integrate existing policy documents that explicitly address or make reference to urban agriculture and related area? Yes
Does the Strategy or Framework make reference to the Council Plan and appear to be integrated into the achievement of the Plan’s major objectives? Yes
Does the Strategy or Framework make reference to and integrate the objectives of The Municipal Health and Wellbeing Act (2008) into its framework? Yes
Does the Strategy or Framework recognise and address the ecological, economic, environmental, social welfare, cultural, and social benefits of urban agriculture and local food systems? Yes
Does the Strategy or Framework recognise the interconnectedness of urban food systems (from production, processing, distribution, access, consumption, nutrient/waste capturing, and recycling)? Yes
Does the Strategy or Framework have an action or implementation plan, a set of indicators, or feedback mechanisms that will allow it to evaluate its development, achievements, successes, obstacles, barriers and lessons. Yes
Is there an educational component of the Strategy or Framework? Yes
Is the Strategy being overseen by a dedicated Food Policy Liaison Officer? Yes, ‘Urban Agriculture Facilitator’

References

  1. Community profile: City of Yarra,
    Available from: http://profile.id.com.au/yarra/home
  2. 2006, City of Yarra, City of Yarra Water Action Plan, Available from: http://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/environment/Saving-water/
  3. 2010, City of Yarra, Carbon Neutral Action Plan, Available from: http://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/environment/Energy-and-Emissions/
  4. 2011 City of Yarra, Urban Agriculture Guidelines, Available from: http://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/Environment/Community-gardens/#guidelines
  5. 2013, City of Yarra, Environmental Strategy, Available from: http://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/environment/Environment-Strategy/
  6. 2014, City of Yarra, Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy, Available from: http://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/Services/Waste-Services/
  7. 2014a, City of Yarra, Urban Agriculture Strategy, Available from: http://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/environment/Community-gardens/urban-agriculture-strategy-/
  8. 2014b, City of Yarra, Urban Agriculture Strategy – Summary, Available from: http://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/environment/Community-gardens/urban-agriculture-strategy-/
  9. 2016, City of Yarra, Community Gardens, Available from: http://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/environment/Community-gardens/

Henry Crawford, Sustain: The Australian Food Network, 2016.

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