Local food initiatives

A family planting trees on National Tree Planting dayThere are a number of ways you can get involved in improving the health of the environment in your local community.

Food security and sustainability

“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. The four pillars of food security are availability, access, utilization and stability.” (Food and Agriculture Organization, World Summit on Food Security 2009) 

One of the key priorities in Yarra’s Public Health Plan is healthier eating. The plan recognises that the cost of food is rising, in part due to climate change. Many fresh foods may be less available and more expensive as a result of climate events such as droughts in Australia and other parts of the world. Increasing fuel costs mean it is more expensive to transport food and these costs are passed on to the consumer. There is a growing industry in organics, slow food and interest in growing your own, however the cost and availability of land can be a limiting factor in a small urban municipality such as Yarra. Many people in Yarra are also limited in their access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. North Yarra Community Health has been tracking the cost of fresh, healthy food across Yarra.

Our food choices also have an impact on the environment, from food production, to food processing, to packaging, transport and waste. Increasing the proportion of your diet that is seasonal, local, organic, and plant-based, and reducing the proportion that is processed, imported and animal-based can dramatically reduce your ecological footprint.

There are many local food initiatives in Yarra which are helping to:

  • reduce food miles
  • reduce food waste (which produces greenhouse gases)
  • build healthy soils
  • build strong and resilient communities
  • create localised food supply
  • strengthen food security
  • boost people’s health and well-being. 

Community gardens

Yarra has a number of community gardens where people who may not have a garden of their own can grow fruit and vegetables and share their gardening skills with others in the community.
Most are located on Department of Human Services land and managed by the local non profit group Cultivating Community.

The North Fitzroy Community gardenCollingwood Children’s Farm and Mater Street community garden have open membership. Contact these groups directly for further details.

Council has adopted Urban Agriculture Guidelines.
Council also now employs an Urban Agriculture (Community Gardens) Facilitator who is working to facilitate new community gardens in Yarra.

If you have a group who keen to start a new garden, please contact: 

Kathi Clark-Orsanic
Urban Agriculture Facilitator
9205 5782


Growing your own produce

Even the smallest courtyard or balcony can produce a variety of vegetables from pots and containers.
Being able to pick your own fresh ingredients can save you money, reduce emissions from transportation, a trip to the local shops, and tastes great. If you don’t have anywhere to garden – or if you have space, but can’t garden - Landshare Australia is another way to go. Landshare is a social networking service that introduces people with spare land to others wanting to grow fruit and vegetables, but with nowhere to do it. For more information about growing vegetables at home visit the Sustainable Gardening Australia website: www.sgaonline.org.au 

Online harvest exchange for home and community gardeners

Apart from the exchange platform (which also allows users to buy/sell, if they have nothing to swap), the site also has tools to create and manage groups (e.g. community gardens) and manage events.  
The site allows communications between members of groups - or more broadly - in a similar way to Facebook.

Veggie Swap online harvest exchange for home and community gardeners

Thinking of starting a food project in Yarra?

This directory and guide to community food projects has been developed in order to assist individuals and groups who may be already working on community food projects or who are thinking about getting something started.
Although not an exhaustive map and directory of the Yarra Community Food System, this directory contains many of the food projects working across the municipality.
The Yarra Community Food Systems Map is an ongoing development and can be accessed via this link.

pdf format From the ground up food projects guide (1.05 MB)

If you know of projects not listed on the map, please email peta@cultivatingcommunity.org.au

Council's Programs

Compost bins and worm farms
Temporary and mobile food stalls
Public Health Plan (with a focus on healthier eating)  

Community Initiatives

CERES Environment Park  
Cultivating Community 
Collingwood Children’s Farm
Community Foods
Landshare Australia
MADGE - Mothers Are Demystifying GE
Farmers' Market   
Sustainable Gardening Australia 
Yarra Neighbourhood Orchard Produce Swap: Bring your excess homegrown produce to swap and meet other local food gardeners.
First Saturday of every month, 10am-12pm at Smith reserve (next to Fitzroy pool). www.yarraneighbourhoodorchard.org

Other Links:

We need to talk about food – how we can all build a better food system (City of Melbourne)
City of Darebin’s Food Security and Sustainability page
Food Alliance
Friends of the Earth Sustainable Food Page
North Yarra Community Health Food Security Page
Sydney Fair Food Alliance
Thinking Food Security
VicHealth Food for All
VicHealth Food Security
VicHealth Food Systems
Victorian Eco Innovation Lab

Victorian Local Governance Association Food Security page  

Join a local group

There are lots of great sustainability groups and local projects happening in Yarra. Get involved and make a difference in your local community.

Do you belong to a community group or local food initiative that you would like to see promoted? Let us know.

Further information
Sally MacAdams
Sustainability Officer
9205 5769


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