City of Melbourne Urban Agriculture Policy Snapshot

City of Melbourne

 Background and Overview


City of Melbourne Food Policy (Image via

City of Melbourne Food Policy (Image via

The City of Melbourne encompasses the suburbs of Carlton, Docklands, East Melbourne, Kensington, North Melbourne, South Wharf and West Melbourne, and parts of the suburbs of Carlton North, Flemington, Melbourne, Parkville, Southbank and South Yarra. It is bounded by the Cities of Moonee Valley and Moreland in the north, the Cities of Yarra and Stonnington in the east, the City of Port Phillip, the Yarra River and the suburb of Port Melbourne in the south, and the City of Maribyrnong in the west. The City of Melbourne represents a highly diverse mix of land uses that includes; residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, cultural, entertainment, tourism, and substantial parklands. The City of Melbourne is one of only several councils in the Greater Melbourne Metropolitan Area with an integrated food policy, and has a number of highly detailed and practical documents relating to urban agriculture and sustainability.



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

Name of Document Reference to Urban Agriculture and Related Areas
Food City Policy (2012) City of Melbourne’s Food Policy acts as framework to guide co-ordinated action and decision making to ensure sufficient access to healthy and appropriate foods now and into the future (2012, City of Melbourne).

City of Melbourne Food Policy (Image via

City of Melbourne Food Policy (Image via

The Policy recognises the health and wellbeing, social, cultural, economic, and environmental benefits of a food system that is “secure, healthy, sustainable, thriving and socially inclusive” (2012, City of Melbourne). ‘The right to food’ is a central theme of the document, recognising physical and economic access to food as a basic human right. The Policy has five themes;

  • A Strong Food Secure Community
  • Healthy Food Choices for All
  • A Sustainable and Resilient Food System
  • A Thriving Local Food Economy
  • A City That Celebrates Food

City of Melbourne’s role;

  • Education and community development
  • Partnerships
  • Advocacy and leadership
  • Regulation
  • Research.

Each theme has a number of ambitions that reflect the best outcomes for that area, and a list of individual actions that could be implemented in the community to achieve these outcomes. The implementation of the policy is dependent on separate action plans, each of which have different timelines, resources required, and responsible units for delivery. The Policy itself is subject to ongoing review to ensure its effectiveness in meeting its aims and vision.

(City of Melbourne, 2012)

Urban Forest Strategy (2012-2032)


The Urban Forest Strategy is a detailed document that addresses the background & context surrounding urban forestry, the issues and challenges facing the City of Melbourne specifically, guiding principles & strategies to address those issues, and frameworks for implementation. The benefits of urban forests span economic, environmental, cultural and political domains. Despite recognising these benefits, the potential of urban forests as a food source is not explored in this strategy.

City of Melbourne Urban Forest Strategy

City of Melbourne Urban Forest Strategy

The vision is for an urban forest in the City of Melbourne that is resilient, healthy, and diverse and will contribute to the health and wellbeing of the community and to create a liveable city (City of Melbourne, 2012a). Three themes underpin the purpose of the strategy;

  • Resilient Landscapes
  • Liveability and Sustainability
  • Community health, wellbeing and values

The strategy makes strong links to a number of key council documents; Future Melbourne Community Plan, Council Plan, Open Spaces Strategy, and a number of other associated policies and deliverables; Urban Forest Diversity Guidelines, Urban Forest Community Engagement Plan, Urban Forest Precinct Plans, Boulevard Master Plans, Growing Green Guide for Melbourne, and the Exceptional Tree Register.

As of June 2016, a draft Urban Ecology and Biodiversity Strategy is being finalised to act as companion document to the Urban Forest Strategy and is the Council’s first strategy aimed at protecting and enhancing urban ecology and biodiversity. The draft Strategy is based on three principles;

  • Connect people to nature
  • Create a diverse, connected and resilient ecosystem
  • Demonstrate local and global leadership

It expresses the following vision – ‘The City of Melbourne will support a diverse, resilient and healthy ecosystem that contributes to the health and wellbeing of our community and the foundation of a liveable city’.

(City of Melbourne, 2012a)

We Need to Talk About Food Underpins the City of Melbourne’s vision of a food system that is secure, healthy, sustainable, thriving and socially inclusive.

Through the provision of knowledge and information, the document empowers people to make small changes in their lives that collectively may ensure that the food we produce and consume improves our environment, our health, regenerates our natural resource base and promotes sustainable and fair food practices. Almost every section of the document makes reference to the role of urban agriculture in fair and sustainable food systems. The document’s sections include;

  • Individual Sustainability ‘Audit’
  • Overview of the Environmental Impacts of our Food System
  • Vision of a Sustainable Food System, with three key actions promoted;
  1. Eat Seasonally
  2. Source locally, &
  3. Grow Your Own
  • Paths to Creating Sustainable Businesses; starting a workplace kitchen garden promoted as the number one way to reduce a businesses eco-footprint
  • Paths to Creating Sustainable Individuals; Growing your own food identified as the number one way to ‘make a difference’
  • A City Dwellers Guide to Sustainable Food, Promotion of; growing at home, farmers markets, farm-gate purchases and fresh of the boat, produce boxes, food swaps, community supported agriculture, & food co-operatives
  • Sustainable Food Checklist
  • Sustainable Shopping Close to You; List of sustainable shopping outlets and useful sites within Greater Melbourne
  • Seasonality Guides
  • Additional Resources

(City of Melbourne, 2014)

Community Food Guide (2014) A companion document to the City of Melbourne Food Policy that supports the community to ‘access and use food’. The scope is within the City of Melbourne and surrounding suburbs. This Community Food Guide provides information about 119 food access programs and services within the City of Melbourne and surrounding suburbs across the following categories (and in terms of What, Who, Where, When, Cost, Contact, Website, Transport);

  • Food Parcels and vouchers
  • Free and cheap meals
  • Community kitchens/cooking classes
  • Nutrition education and support
  • Community gardens
  • Community gardens privately owned/managed
  • Community gardens within City of Melbourne Schools
  • Food growing education
  • Fresh food markets, both within the City of Melbourne & in surrounding suburbs
  • Food Cooperatives
  • Food Swaps
  • Community planter boxes
  • Food delivery and shopping support services
  • How do I donate food?

(City of Melbourne, 2014a)

Street Garden Guidelines (2015) Street gardening (focus here is mainly on raised plater boxes) is identified as one of many forms of urban agriculture being practiced within the City of Melbourne. The Street Garden Guidelines offer residents clear, easy-to-read information and advice about ways to garden in approved areas within the municipality. The guidelines also explain the application process and how to engage with your community and neighbours.

(City of Melbourne, 2015)

Growing Green Guide (2014) The document recognises the potential for walls and roofs of buildings to act as a productive places for urban food production. Urban agriculture on roofs and walls may be part of community gardens, private residences, school farms, social enterprises or may have potential to be commercial farms. This document provides the context around greening buildings, its benefits, technical guidance, design and planning tools, building and installation resources, maintenance information, and a list of case studies within Victoria.

(City of Melbourne, 2014b)

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


  1.  2012, City of Melbourne, Food City, Available From;
  2. 2012a, City of Melbourne, Urban Forest Strategy (2012-2032), Available From;
  3. 2014, City of Melbourne, We Need To Talk About Food, Available From;
  4. 2014a, City of Melbourne, Community Food Guide, Available From;
  5. 2014b, City of Melbourne, Growing Green Guide, Available From;
  6. 2015, City of Melbourne, Street Garden Guidelines, Available From;

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

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