City of Greater Bendigo Urban Agriculture Policy Snapshot

City of Greater Bendigo Policy Snapshot

Background and Overview

The City of Greater Bendigo was formed in 1994 from the amalgamation of the former City of Bendigo with the Borough of Eaglehawk, Shire of Strathfieldsaye, Shire of Huntly, Rural City of Marong and parts of the Shire of Mclvor. Today it includes the City of Bendigo and the towns of Axedale, Elmore, Heathcote, Marong, Raywood and Strathfieldsaye.

Sustainable Living Guide; In The Garden (Image via bendigo.vic.gov.au)

Sustainable Living Guide; In The Garden (Image via bendigo.vic.gov.au)

Due to its location in the centre of the state, issues around food security have long been a priority for Council, but particularly so in recent years in the context of global environmental change.It was identified as a priority through the City of Greater Bendigo Strategy Unit’s ‘A Thought for Food – Greater Bendigo Food Security Research Paper’. The 2012 Research Paper (adopted by Council January 2013) includes  details on current global food trends, Australia’s food policy context, local and regional food priorities and provides future considerations for the area. Healthy Food Connect is identified in ‘future considerations’ as a possible way to address the risks around food security.

 

Healthy Food Connect is the multi-faceted model developed  by the Department of Health to address local food system changes.

 

Healthy Food Connect aims to: improve access to a healthy food supply, create supportive environments to make healthy food choices the easy choice, influence policy and planning, develop programs to strengthen community action, and have a priority focus on fruit and vegetable (City of Greater Bendigo, 2014).

As part of the Healthy Food Connect Project, the Bendigo Food Forum ‘Grow Share Cook Source – Greater Bendigo Let’s Connect!’ was held on 3 June 2013. There were over 85 participants that  included local farmers, food business owners, university students, restaurateurs, community members and representatives from local food networks.

The City of Greater Bendigo Food Security Report (published in 2014) incorporates many of the recommendations of the Bendigo Food Forum, and represents a thorough review of the food security landscape in Bendigo, with recommendations and future considerations aiming to minimise the incidence of food insecurity in the region. As part of Councils commitment to meet the outcomes of the report, a Food Hub Feasibility Study was carried out to explore thefeasibility of regional food hub for Bendigo. This commitment to understanding and supporting a strong regional food system continues with the City having recently hosted the inaugural Australian Community Food Hubs Conference on August 8 and 9, organised by Sustain along with Growing Change, and supported by the City of Greater Bendigo, LaTrobe University and Bendigo TAFE among other organizations (Sustain, 2016c).

In addition to the documents outlined below, the Council website has a number of resources and links that relate to food in terms of access, safety, and availability. Within the Sustainable Living Guide tab, the Sustainable Food guide provides a number of links to resources relating to ‘Community Food Gardens’, ‘Local Producers and Farmers Markets’, and ‘Grow and Share Your Own’. There are also a number of similar resources under the Gardening tab and Native Vegetation and Land Management (City of Greater Bendigo, 2016b).

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

Name of Document Reference to Urban Agriculture and Related Areas
Public Health and Wellbeing Policy (October 2013) When the policy was formulated in 2013, one of the top priority areas identified through the community engagement process was food, specifically the promotion of healthy eating, community gardens and eat local buy local.

Of the five major themes of the policy; Planning for Growth, Liveability, Productivity, Sustainability, & Good Governance and Decision Making, both Productivity and Sustainability objectives touch on issues relating to food and food security.Overall the policy has a strong sense of the need to create more resilient urban environments, with food being an integral component of that resilience.

Relevant objectives and actions under the theme of Productivity include the ‘Support of community initiatives which increase access to healthy food and develop knowledge and skills around healthy eating’, specific actions include:

  • Undertake a community wide project to improve healthy eating
  • Use current evidence to undertake a number of small actions relating to food supply, access, and affordability; and
  • Consider the development of a Food Coalition and Food Information Portal.

Under the theme of Sustainability, relevant objectives and actions include;

  • Educating residents and businesses on increased issues of food safety and infectious disease prevention and control, due to climate change
  • Supporting community initiatives which increase access to healthy food and develop knowledge and skills around healthy eating (CP 2.1.4) by:   Participation in community education sessions on healthy eating and food security

(City of Greater Bendigo, 2013)

Greater Bendigo Community Plan 2036 The Greater Bendigo Community Plan identifies three priority areas that include Livability, Productivity and Sustainability, with the intention for the principles relating to these areas to guide future planning outcomes in Bendigo. The community engagement process that was undertaken as part of the Plans formulation uncovered a desire in the community for strong Council support of local food and local food systems;

” Encouraging the growth of design, innovation and concept industries as well as niche manufacturing including those which utilise goods sourced from the local area (for example focussing on ‘low food miles’ an important concept when considering a low carbon economy.”

Of the three priority areas, the theme of Sustainability makes the most explicit reference to food and food security, with objectives that include to;

  • Safeguard the best agricultural land for food productivity; planning amendments may be necessary
  • Develop strategies to promote local food producers and retailers
  • Develop strategies to support and sustain local primary producers and assist their transition to sustainability and value-adding, where necessary

(City of Greater Bendigo, 2016a)

Environment Strategy (draft strategy, June 2016) (2016-2036) The City of Greater Bendigo Environment Strategy is a twenty-year strategy developed in consultation with the community, business, councillors and staff to identify a shared environmental view of the region. To ensure the achievement of the 20-year vision, the strategy covers ten long-term action areas, which are based on the ten guiding principles of One Planet Living.

Principle 5; Local and Sustainable Food, contextualises the current food landscape in Australia and outlines a number of key actions for both council and the community to ensure a fairer and more sustainable local food system. Council actions include;

  • Support quality commercial scale agriculture and horticulture
  • Support local urban food production
  • Support and promote Traditional Owner food harvesting
  • Support and promote food sharing
  • Raise awareness of the benefits of home gardening and local fresh food

The important link between food and culture is also mentioned in Principle 8; Culture and Community, through recognizing that ‘working on sustainability helps communities build diverse social connections, as groups come together to grow and share food, protect and enrich landscapes, encourage sustainable practices and improve connections to nature’.

(City of Greater Bendigo, 2016)

2014 Food Security Report (2014) The Food Security Report represents a thorough review of  food insecurity in Greater Bendigo, with recommendations and future considerations intending to minimise the incidence of food insecurity in the region. The VLGA Food Security Scan encompasses the four environments for health: natural, built, economic and socio-cultural. Data was collected between 1 May and 21 June 2013, using a mix of desktop review, interviews with council staff and review of the Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan (MPHWP) community consultation results 2013.

The findings from the VLGA Food Security Scan are presented under the following headings

  1. Health and wellbeing dimensions and opportunities
  2. Natural environment dimensions and opportunities
  3. Built environment dimensions and opportunities
  4. Economic environment dimensions and opportunities
  5. Socio – cultural environment dimensions and opportunities

(City of Greater Bendigo, 2014)

Home Grown – A Practical Guide to Growing Your Own Fresh Food A comprehensive guide to growing food at home, Home Grown provides practical growing advice on how to avoid chemicals, use less water and energy, reduce food miles and increase your well-being and health.

  • Why Grow Your Own Produce?
  • Planning (Considerations and Construction)
  • Maintenance (Soil, Fertilisers, Watering etc)
  • Garden Health (Common Problems, Pests and Pest Management, Planting Strategies)
  • Preparing for Harvest
  • Beyond the Harvest (Information on; Local Food Networks, Community Gardens, Farmers Markets

(2014a, City of Greater Bendigo)

Review of Existing or Developing Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Strategies

Snapshot & Summary  
Strategy / Framework / NA Framework
Does the Strategy or Framework integrate existing policy documents that explicitly address or make reference to urban agriculture and related area? NA
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? NA
Does the Strategy or Framework make reference to and integrate the objectives of The Municipal Health and Wellbeing Act (2008) into its framework? NA
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? NA
Does the Strategy or Framework recognise the interconnectedness of urban food systems (from production, processing, distribution, access, consumption, nutrient/waste capturing, and recycling)? NA
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. NA
Is there an educational component of the Strategy or Framework? NA
Is the Strategy being overseen by a dedicated Food Policy Liaison Officer? NA

References;

  1. 2016, City of Greater Bendigo, Environment Strategy, Available From; https://www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/Services/Environment/Environment_Strategy#.V6_dtVJBspE
  2. 2016a, City of Greater Bendigo, Greater Bendigo Community Plan 2036, Available From; https://www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/Services/Community/Community_Planning#.V6_eBFJBspE
  3. 2016b, City of Greater Bendigo, Sustainable Food, Available From; https://www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/Services/Environment/Sustainable_Living_Guide/Sustainable_Food
  4. 2016c, Sustain: The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance, Food Hubs Conference, Available From; http://www.circlesoffood.org/2016/03/03/australia-first-event/
  5. 2014, City of Greater Bendigo, Food Security Report, Available From; https://www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/…/Food_Security_Report_2014.pdf
  6. 2014a, City of Greater Bendigo, Home Grown – A Practical Guide to Growing Your Own Fresh Food, Available From; https://www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/files/…/Home_Grown_Web.pdf
  7. 2013, City of Greater Bendigo, Public Health and Wellbeing Policy, Available From; https://www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/Services/Planning/Strategic_Planning/Current_Projects/Greater_Bendigo_Public_Health_and_Wellbeing_Plan_GBPHWP#.V6_dSFJBspE

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

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