City of Geelong Urban Agriculture Policy Snapshot

City of Greater Geelong Policy Snapshot

Background and Overview

Food Policy Discussion Paper (Image via geelongaustralia.com.au)

Food Policy Discussion Paper (Image via geelongaustralia.com.au)

The City of Greater Geelong’s Food Policy (2015) was developed to provide clear direction to Council’s role in strengthening and making the region’s food system more accessible and resilient (City of Greater Geelong, 2015). An action plan for the Policy was scheduled for development in the same year but has not been drafted.

Council has been highly proactive in their mission to address food insecurity in the community. The Geelong Food Assistance Network (GFAN) acts to co-ordinate a number of organisations that operate independently to address food insecurity in the region (City of Greater Geelong, 2016). The network has a leadership group representing the major agencies and organizations, and a general membership group made up of organisations and agencies dealing with persons in need of food assistance. The Council website also provides links to a number of studies and assessment reports looking at the local state of food insecurity (City of Greater Geelong, 2012)

Supporting alternate food networks within the community has been a priority area for Council in recent years. Their website provides links, directories, maps, and resources relating to food swaps, farmers markets, community gardens, community kitchens, low/no cost meals, and delivered meals (City of Greater Geelong, 2016a). Information, checklists, maps and directories for local community gardens also feature on the Council website (City of Greater Geelong, 2016b). The Australian City Farms and Community Garden Network (ANFCGN) is facilitated by Geelong Council and has a number of objectives that include:

  • Support existing and new community gardens
  • Build relationships between gardens to share knowledge, skills and resources
  • Advocate and raise awareness of the value of Community Garden

(City of Greater Geelong, 2016b)

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

Name of Document Reference to Urban Agriculture and Related Areas
Food Policy (2015)

 

 

A vision for City of Greater Geelong’s food system, the Policy provides direction to Council’s role in strengthening and making the region’s food system more accessible and resilient. The Food Policy Discussion Paper set the platform for the Food Policy that followed it in 2015, and identified six key themes relating to food in Geelong; food and health, safety, security, environment, local economy and culture. The vision of the Food Policy (2015) is for a healthy, sustainable, prosperous, and fair food system in Geelong where:

  • All members of the community have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their cultural and dietary needs
  • Food is produced and consumed in ways that protect the natural resources and increase the resilience of Geelong’s food system
  • Food growers and other food businesses in the Geelong region thrive
  • We celebrate our cultural and culinary diversity
  • People have the knowledge and skills to participate actively in shaping the region’s food system.

(City of Greater Geelong, 2015)

Urban agriculture is recognized as an important component in establishing and maintaining this resilience. An extensive definitions section reflects a complex understanding of local food systems as being not only about production and consumption, but food safety, access, waste, culturally appropriate foods, resilience and fairness. Action areas include;

  • Land use planning
  • Licensing and Regulation
  • Facilitation, Advocacy and Leadership
  • Partnership and Civic Engagement
  • Information
  • Workforce development

(City of Greater Geelong, 2015)

Actions in these areas will aim to promote, support and facilitate urban food production and local food networks, amoung other aims. An action plan was scheduled to be developed during 2015.

The Food Policy makes strong links to a number of other key Council documents that include; The City Plan (2013-2017), Geelong’s Health and Wellbeing Plan (2013-2017), Greater Geelong Planning Scheme 2014, Geelong Port City 2050, Rural land use strategy 2007, The City of Greater Geelong’s Environment Management Strategy 2013-2017 Regional Food System Alliance, (established in 2009), Geelong Food Assistance Network.

Environment Management Strategy (2014-2017) The Environment Management Strategy serves as a roadmap for Geelong’s stewardship of the local environment. The Strategy guides local planning decisions and policy making in areas that have the ability to influence or impact on the environment. It also identifies significant opportunities to help improve the environment, economy and lifestyle, and has adopted the One Planet Living principles as a guide to policies relating to sustainability and healthy living (2014, City of Greater Geelong). While there is no specific mention made of urban agriculture, the sustainability of rural agricultural practices is an issue addressed in the document.

The Strategy identifies the key drivers of environmental change and future threats, which the Strategy attempts to plan for and contend with (2014, City of Greater Geelong). These forces are categorized into; Climate Change, Population Growth, Lifestyles – Consumption and Ecological Footprint, & Economic Model – Unsustainable Growth (City of Greater Geelong, 2014).

Particular attention is paid to agriculture, as approximately 49,236 hectares of rural hinterland in Greater Geelong is given to primary production activities (City of Greater Geelong, 2014). The productive capacity, sustainability, and ecological health of this land is under constant threat, and Council actions relating to agricultural land are guided by principles of restoration, protection and maintenance of the environment and its natural resources, reducing resource consumption, developing a culture of sustainability, and heightening the community’s capacity to care for the environment (City of Greater Geelong, 2014).

The document ties into the City Plan’s vision for “building our community through enterprise, opportunity and innovation in a quality environment” (City Plan 2013-17), and links to dozens of council policies that deliver the strategic outcomes (City of Greater Geelong, 2014).

Urban Forest Strategy (2015 – 2025) This Strategy provides a framework in which to actively manage the urban tree population. This includes urban streets, urban parkland and urban conservation reserves with the aim to promote enhanced environmental, social and economic outcomes in Geelong.

Benefits of Urban Forests (City of Greater Geelong, 2015a)

Benefits of Urban Forests (City of Greater Geelong, 2015a)

In addition to the many benefits listed in the table, urban forests are an important food source, and a source that in the context climate change is becoming increasingly important. The resilience of urban forests to climactic pressures is emphasized throughout the document, a characteristic applicable to food forests and an area that is receiving increasing attention in the context of global environmental change.

(City of Greater Geelong, 2015a)

 Review of Existing or Developing Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Strategies

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. NO
Is there an educational component of the Strategy or Framework? YES
Is the Strategy being overseen by a dedicated Food Policy Liaison Officer? NO

References:

  1. 2016, City of Greater Geelong, Geelong Food Assistance Network (GFAN), Available from: http://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/directory/item/8cddde3b0ba4ea4.aspx
  2. 2016a, City of Greater Geelong, Food Access and Support in Geelong, Available From: http://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/foodindustry/article/item/8ce8e9d1dd226a0.aspx
  3. 2016b, City of Greater Geelong, Community Gardens, Available From: http://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/communitygardens/article/item/8cdd4919a3966ac.aspx
  4. 2015, City of Greater Geelong, Food Policy, Available from: https://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/common/Public/Documents/8d2a303c23af1bf-CoGG%20Food%20Policy.pdf
  5. 2015a, City of Greater Geelong, Urban Forest Strategy, Available From: http://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/urbanforest/documents/item/8d30153dfee2a6c.aspx
  6. 2014, City of Greater Geelong, Environment Management Strategy (2014-2017), Available From; http://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/environment/article/item/8cbc875c9ea9a7e.aspx
  7. 2012, City of Greater Geelong, Food Security – Building the Local Picture, Available From: http://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/foodindustry/documents/item/8d1aad9af328e73.aspx

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

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