Reflections on the development of the Moreland Food Systems Strategy
Councillor Nat Abboud
In late 2013 my very young kids were starting to eat more food than I could grow in the garden. One particular Saturday morning I got home from the Collingwood Farmers Market laden with goodies and a heavy burden of guilt about adding to the cross town traffic so I determined to call my local council and ask them why Coburg didn’t have a local accredited Farmers Market. Several months later I found myself holding political forums at the newly established North Coburg Farmers Market.
As we listened to the state candidates tell us all about what food security, agriculture and food sovereignty meant to them, I wondered for the first time about what food growing in the public realm meant to me.
At about the same time the Moreland City Council was coming up with the first draft of the Community Food Growing Policy. Later in the same year councillors resolved to consult further with stakeholders to develop a broader Urban Agriculture and Food Production Strategy.
An open invitation was issued by council to the community and a steering committee was formed. More than thirty people; community members, council staff, and advocates, supported by a consultant, created the first draft of the Moreland Food Systems Framework as the foundation of a broader strategy.
At the August 2016 Moreland City Council meeting, after an unsatisfactory attempt was made to merge the deliverables of the Moreland Food Systems Framework with the Moreland Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan, the item was deferred by Cr Lenka Thompson.
As a newly elected councillor in October 2016 there was a great opportunity for me to finally consolidate the results of all these hours of work. I called a meeting of stakeholders. After a very productive workshop and with the help of council officers and an extremely efficient facilitator, as well as a budget bid from the Director of Social Development, the work is finished. The crucial word is “implementation”. The Moreland Food Systems Strategy will, I hope, be finally adopted at the May meeting.
We are experiencing a great disconnect to our food. We are absolutely reliant on convenience. Many areas of the community are isolated from the rest. We are experiencing growing poverty and increasing racial tension. A successful Food Systems Strategy will start to address some of these community problems.
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Below we reproduce the vision, outcomes and principles from the draft Strategy, which goes to the City of Moreland for adoption on 10 May. Following that meeting we will make available the final endorsed Strategy.
MORELAND FOOD SYSTEM STRATEGY 2017–2020
The need to foster local food systems has been increasingly recognised over the last decade. ‘Research shows that cultivating local food systems can significantly enhance the health and wellbeing of communities, improve the availability of and access to nutritious food, strengthen the local economy, and revitalise urban and natural environments. The Victorian Parliament has noted the need to consider food production and distribution within the planning of urban communities, with other authorities identifying access to affordable food and the opportunity for people to produce, sell and buy local foods, as priorities for supporting community resilience’.
Increasingly, members of the community are seeking locally grown food that reduces our carbon footprint, increases community connectedness and enriches our collective culture. Developing and nurturing a local food system is no longer marginal, it is mainstream.
In February 2017, Moreland City Council became the seventh local government in Australia to sign the Urban and Regional Food Declaration, which recognises that access to nutritious food is a fundamental human right. The Declaration articulates a number of principles relevant to building a resilient local food system, including proactively informing planning and legislative action related to environmental stewardship, food security, health and wellbeing, and urban livelihoods.
This is Moreland City Council’s first Food System Strategy. Our vision is a sustainable, just and vibrant food system that contributes to a more resilient community and a healthier environment; ensures that nutritious food is socially and economically accessible to everyone; and protects and nurtures healthy food culture whilst celebrating diversity.
Our vision is a sustainable, just and vibrant food system. A sustainable food system contributes to a more resilient community and a healthier environment. A just food system ensures that nutritious food is socially and economically accessible to everyone in the community. A vibrant food system protects and nurtures healthy food culture and celebrates diversity.
This Strategy guides the work of Council, in collaboration with the Moreland community, in achieving our vision. It describes the goals we will work towards and the actions that will help us to achieve these goals. This Strategy also provides an overview of the good work already underway across Moreland that can be leveraged to enhance our food system, and demonstrates Council’s commitment to championing new initiatives.
The implementation of this Strategy will provide the building blocks that set Council and the community up for success in advancing a sustainable, just and vibrant food system into the future.
By 2020, Moreland will be well on its ways to achieving the following outcomes:
- The Moreland economy is stronger and the community more resilient
- The Moreland community is physically and mentally healthier
- Everyone in Moreland has the opportunity to produce food at home or nearby
- Locally grown and raised food is a central, celebrated part of the Moreland community identity
- Food practices across Moreland are sustainable
- Land and spaces across Moreland are healthy and productive
- Food security is enjoyed across the Moreland community
- The Moreland community has the knowledge and skills to grow nutritious food
- The Moreland community has the capacity to build a better food system
Local government and communities that focus on developing and nurturing their local food system can expect lower unemployment, healthier people and thriving local food enterprises.
Principles guiding the delivery of this Strategy
The following principles guide Council’s approach to delivering this Strategy:
- Council will strengthen its partnerships with the community and work collaboratively
- Council will encourage community participation and consult with the community to ensure that proposed solutions meet their needs
- Council will apply an equity lens to the implementation of this Strategy, to ensure that all members of the Moreland community benefit from it
- Council will strengthen existing policies, programs and initiatives that support this Strategy
- Council will support innovation to overcome barriers to delivering this Strategy
- Council will influence other governments to take action that enhances the environment, food security and urban and regional livelihoods
Moreland City Council will positively influence investment in a sustainable, just and vibrant food system through partnerships with the community and other governments.
 Heart Foundation, VEIL & VicHealth, Food-sensitive planning and urban design: A conceptual framework for achieving a sustainable and healthy food system (March 2011) p 2.