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Fiona Buining

Founder, Ainslie Urban Farm

Fiona Louise Buining is passionate about growing plants, especially food plants, and is inspired to create pathways for future farmers in urban areas. She has grown vegetables wherever she has lived. Working with teenagers as a teacher she has seen first-hand the physical and mental health benefits of learning to grow food. As a grower she has observed an unmet demand for locally grown fresh food. Her question was: how do you become an urban farmer in Australia?
Fiona travelled for her Churchill Fellowship in 2022 to the USA, Canada, The UK and the Netherlands where she investigated urban farm ventures that provide vocational pathways for aspiring food growers.
As the result of her Fellowship findings Fiona has a vision to establish an Urban Farm Incubator with a productive farm at the hub offering a continuum of training in urban farming including apprenticeships. Training programs will target people with multiple barriers to employment, school students and aspiring farmers. Graduates from the programs will be eligible to apply to join the Incubator program where they will be supported to start their own urban farm enterprise. The Urban Farm Incubator will provide skills, labour, fresh produce, meaningful work, and connect growers to consumers. Evidence from her Fellowship is that these programs have employment rates for graduates of over 80% and offer a high return on investment. The hub will be a vibrant incubator, spawning small scale urban farm businesses, and value-added enterprises contributing to food security and generating a well-being economy.
Fiona managed the Merici College Kitchen Garden from 2012-2019, a teaching garden that grows seasonal vegetables using organic growing methods to supply the school canteen and restaurant. Her work was recognised when Merici won the ACT Keep Australia Beautiful Sustainable Cities Award in 2012 and the ACTsmart Schools Sustainable School of the Year in 2019.
Fiona runs Ainslie Urban Farm where she grows microgreens, in green houses in her backyard in Ainslie, for 30 local restaurants and cafes. Fiona’s property has over 50 fruit trees, nuts, berries, vegetables, two beehives, chickens and working rabbits.