How fantastic it was to sit with foodies, urban and rural farmers, and sustainability experts at the Great Local Lunch at the Sustainable Living Festival on Sunday. The lunch brought together lots of local producers who together provided the ingredients for a fabulous lunch with low food miles.

CEO Catherine Brown welcoming guests to the Sustainable Living Festival's Great Local Lunch.

The Foundation has supported the Sustainable Living Festival’s Grow it Local Melbourne program for several years. Grow it Local encourages the growing of food in backyards, balconies, community and windowsill spaces. It connects people to food in ways that are fun, creative and social. It helps educate people about the benefits of sustainable food systems and healthy eating.

At the lunch many of the local producers spoke about their urban agriculture. My favourite local producers were two young farmers who had grown their first crop of garlic after training and mentoring by an urban agriculture incubator program.

2016-02-16-Great-Local-Lunch.pngGuests enjoy the Great Local Lunch as part of the Sustainable Living Festival.

The Foundation has made food security one of the priorities in our Sustainable Melbourne impact program. The Victorian Eco Innovation Lab’s FoodPrint Project (University of Melbourne and Deakin University) recently mapped Melbourne’s food system’s as part of an Innovation grant from the Foundation: “Melbourne’s peri-urban region currently produces enough food to meet 41% of the food needs of metro Melbourne’s current population.” But now we must plan for a growing population and climate change impacts.

Food security covers several of the Foundation’s other impact areas. Through Feed Melbourne Appeal (with FareShare and Leader Community Newspapers) we support food charities who provide food to individuals and families who are doing it tough. Through this program we are also beginning to support community gardens.


Good food is essential to good health. At a recent Climate Change and Health conference run alongside the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris and hosted by the World Health Organisation, The Global Climate & Health Alliance, International Federation of Medical Students Association and others, food security was a recurring theme. Drought and deteriorating soil quality has made sustainable food production a high priority issue in some parts of the world. As I listened to people dealing with these issues I reflected on how very fortunate we are in Australia. However, we cannot be complacent. Sustainable food systems will be critical to a healthy community into the future. 

It was inspiring to see the young doctors thinking about climate change and health at the international conference and the young farmers producing great products locally at the Great Local Melbourne lunch. Hats off to them.

Catherine Brown


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