The Australian Food Network
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Additional Services

Food system change is complex. To shift the dial on the health, sustainability and equity metrics that matter to our partners and clients, we work across a range of leverage points in the local, state and national systems they operate in.

Our range of additional services enables our clients to make impact where and how it’s needed, including:

Professional development & capacity building

Our series of professional development programmes empower staff to become food system champions within your organisation.

Our programmes have two objectives:

  1. Supporting staff to see the work they're already doing through a food system lens.
  2. Breaking internal silos and helping cross-departmental food system teams to form.

Professional development and mentoring programmes can be designed for Council teams or individual staff members.

  • Wyndham City Council (2022-2023)

    This project was about empowering Council staff to see how their disparate departments and work connect to their local food system. We facilitated a cross-departmental food systems community of practice that focussed on food system literacy and breaking-down policy siloes. This team then collaborated with community leaders on a series of participatory workshops, resulting in the crafting of a shared vision and priority actions for food system transformation in their city.

    The City of Wyndham has since established a permanent, cross-departmental food systems working group as a result. Sustain will be continuing this work in 2024-25 with the facilitation of a Wyndham Food Collective.

    The breadth and depth of this work across Council cannot be understated, with many different areas having particular but connected focus. So, this project and the reports provided by Sustain have helped us to identify this diversity of work and explore ways of bringing that all together. It’s also unpacked the complexity of the food system and we’ve been able to draw on evidence-based work to help inform and shape our own work here in Wyndham.

    Janelle Phillips,
    Area Leader Community Development & Programs,
    Community Strengthening & Inclusion,
    City of Wyndham

Foundational food system policymaking

We specifically designed this service to help local governments achieve VicHealth’s Local Government Partnership Core Module "Building Better Food Systems for Healthier Communities".

Focussing on food system mapping, needs assessments and community collaboration, this service helps organisations and communities take foundational steps on their food system transformation journey.

  • Golden Plains Shire Council (2023-2024)

    To support the Golden Plains Shire Council’s first steps on the road to food system transformation, our foundational food system strategy service included:

    • Mapping the local food system, state of food security and the needs of community members (including food producers) through a shire-wide survey.
    • An introductory online food systems workshop for Council staff.
    • A VicHealth module ‘Quick-Win’ event - an in-person Local Food Forum.
    • A VicHealth module ‘Step-up’ activation – forming a Local Food Network of council and community members (including representation from First Nations groups).
    • Developing a governance model (including the voice of young people) to support future implementation.
    • Supporting the Local Food Network to develop their local food system action plan.

Starting urban farms

We support communities to establish vibrant place-based, food justice urban farms that connect people together through food.

  • Oakhill Food Justice Farm (2021+)

    In 12 months, we transformed a vacant site into a flourishing space of healthy food production and community connection. Produce grown on-site contributes to food relief parcels for 150 local families (via our partner DIVRS). A hands-on outdoor learning program supported 700 Preston Primary students in 2022-2023 to learn about seeds, compost, soil and plants. Our urban agriculture paid internship programme supports local young people to break through education and employment barriers - building their resilience and wellbeing through connection with others and the food justice farm. In collaboration with local First Nations organisation Dardi Munwurro, the farm also supports a cohort of First Nations men to build their skills and confidence whilst transitioning out of the justice system.

    More about the Oakhill Food Justice Farm

    People at Oakhill Food Justice Farm

Action research

We do quantitative and qualitive research to explore the impact of current policies and conduct feasibility studies on transforming the food systems people live within.

  • Pandemic Gardening Report (2020)

    This report serves as an action agenda for urban food production. Reflecting the voices of 9,000+ gardeners across Australia, the report illustrates how edible gardens can create greener cities, reduce waste, strengthen communities, enhance food security and encourage healthier diets.

    This report underpinned our strongest call-to-action yet to federal and state/territory governments – establish a $500 million national Edible Gardening Fund to drive the mass expansion of urban food production across Australia.

    More about the Pandemic Gardening Survey Report

    Findings and Action Agenda from the 2020 National Pandemic Gardening Survey (document cover page)
  • Growing Edible Cities & Towns Report (2022)

    This report is a deep-dive into urban agriculture in Victoria. The findings provide baseline data regarding the sector’s composition, activities, market channels, challenges, needs and aspirations. Serving as a roadmap for sector growth, the report recommends how policymakers at all levels of government (as well as private sector actors) can use urban agriculture to respond to the interconnected challenges of our time like food security, climate change, human and ecological health and urban sustainability.

    More about the Growing Edible Cities & Towns Report

    Growing Edible Cities and Town: A Survey of the Victorian Urban Agricultural Sector (document cover page)

Community capacity building

We enable local government, NGOs and community members to form coalitions, networks or forums for local food system change.

  • City of Ballarat (2023)

    The driving force behind the City of Ballarat's three-year local food systems action plan is the Ballarat local food coalition.

    We supported the formation of this committed group of 15 organisations– reaching across council, community groups and several First Nations communities and local producers.

    The Coalition led the initial mapping and needs assessment of their local food system, which then informed a three-year Action Plan designed with our support. Going forward, the Coalition is well-placed to be the driving force for positive food system change in for Ballarat, with ongoing support from Council.

    The expertise and support provided by Sustain was essential for the development of the Ballarat Local Food Coalition. Over a 12 month period Sustain guided the City of Ballarat through the process of engaging a diverse and committed group of community members, collated and presented evidence on the status of the local food system, workshopped priorities and finally co-designed an action plan for Council and community to progress together. The coalition are now in a position to initiate community focused projects, and through the process, have strengthened connections with a range of council officers. The support of Sustain to develop this project has elevated food systems work for the council, and accelerated community driven activity in this area.

    Caroline Amirtharajah,
    Health & Wellbeing Officer,
    City of Ballarat
    The Ballarat Local Food Coalition

Connecting food-system changemakers

When you work with Sustain, you join a community of change-makers with a shared mission.

  • Local Government Food Systems Networking Forum

    A community of practice and peer-to-peer learning for staff working on food systems - we established the Local Government Food Systems Networking Forum in March 2021 to connect change-makers across departments and local governments. Over the last three years the Forum has provided a supported space for members to learn from each other’s food security and sustainability work. The forum now includes over 20 staff from 15 councils and meets quarterly online.

    As I'm the first person in my role at the Council, I have received direction from this Forum. It's broadened my horizons and provided an essential educational framework from which to leverage.

    Forum member

    Advocacy from Sustain helped get a notice of motion passed last year to review the Food System Strategy and endorse the Consensus statement

    Forum member
    Forum participant feedback
  • Urban Agriculture Forum

    This annual event in November brings together the growers, community leaders and policy-makers operating on the frontlines of food-system transformation.

    Visit the Urban Agriculture Forum website

    Costa Georgiadis presents at the Urban Agriculture Forum

Advocacy and movement building

Arguing the case for system change in the halls of power and empowering everyday people to shift into the healthy, sustainable and equitable food systems.

  • Urban Agriculture Month

    In 2023, we helped 24,000 Australians connect with the community gardens, urban farms and social enterprises that are the foundation of their future food system.

    Visit the Urban Agriculture Month website

    Urban Agriculture Month participation statistics
  • National Food Systems and Food Security Working Group

    In 2022, we gathered 14 of our local government, NGO and state government allies together to call for urgent food system transition in the face of climate, social and economic challenges. Since then, we have facilitated bi-monthly meetings of what is now a national Food Systems and Food Security Working Group.

Start the conversation.

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