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Australian Community Food Hubs Conference 2016

Presented by Sustain

From August 8-18, Sustain facilitated Australia’s first national community food hubs speaking tour. This tour encompassed 13 separate events in every state and territory bar SA and the NT.

These events were the result of a wonderful collective national effort that involved no fewer than five universities, five local councils, four TAFEs, agencies of the state governments of NSW and WA, and numerous not-for-profits and community organisations.

Listening to Bruce Pascoe, author of Dark Emu, speak at the Conference Dinner, 8 August

Sustain’s intention in devoting substantial time and resources to the organisation and coordination of this national tour was two-fold.

First, we wanted to create spaces for dialogue and discussion amongst a wide diversity of food system stakeholders, especially those who don’t normally participate in local and fair food events.

Secondly, we wanted to raise the profile of the local and community food sector in Australia in general, and of community food hubs in particular. We wanted to stimulate conversations, facilitate encounters and generate momentum for new projects and collaborations, to the lasting benefit of the growing local and fair food movement in this country.

These goals have been achieved beyond our most optimistic expectations. The emails and messages below are a small selection of the warmth, gratitude and excitement with which this tour has been received.

I’ve evaluated my experience at The 2016 Inaugural Australian Food Hubs Conference and give 100/100. Nick Rose is an excellent ‘people connector’ who is on a quest to change the global food system for the better… Over a FULL 2 days in Bendigo this week Nick and his team provided an excellent opportunity to over 150 people from around the country to go forth and change the world. We were given hope by way of a community (of likeminded) gathering and the ways to achieve a fair food system through skills sharing by knowledgeable presenters both International and Local including follow-on feed-back sessions. My mind is still boggling so now is the time to reflect, assess and plan armed with my new-found skills and network. Thanks to all involved.
Wendy Lehman, EcoSustain Farm;
Treasurer, Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance

Jeff Pow, co-proprietor, Southampton Homestead, presenting at the Margaret River Food and Agriculture Summit

I just wanted to say how lovely it was to meet you and a HUGE thank you for your work on Saturday night!! The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and people have been raving about the whole evening. Excited farmers have been contacting me with ideas and inspiration about how we can take control and shape a more fruitful future for the local agricultural community and Michael, our CEO, has made special comment on how impressed he was with the evening. So – thank you for being a part of it and being pivotal in making it so special. Lovely to meet you and I hope we have the opportunity to work together again in the future.
Annemaree Docking,
Agribusiness Officer, City of Whittlesea

Eli Szandala, Sustainable Agriculture Officer of Tweed Shire Council, with Kathryn Scharf and Sustain ED Nick Rose at the Food for Thought Forum in Kingscliff, 12 August 2016

Wow, Wow, Wow! What a fantastic couple of days at the Food for Thought Forum last week. I would like to express to you a huge thank you for the time you spent in both preparing and delivering such a fantastic presentation at this inaugural Forum. We truly value and appreciate the passion and professionalism in which your presentation was delivered. The Forum provided a space where everyone could share their challenges, frustrations and most importantly their aspirations for what they see as an amazing array of opportunities in our region. At the final session on Friday the delegates indicated a strong desire to continue the positive momentum and develop some grass root plans to progress our food sector opportunities and we are determined to honour this energy. I look forward to working with you in the future. 
Liz Collyer,
Director Corporate Services,
Tweed Shire Council

Nick Rose delivering a keynote address at the Food for Thought Forum at Kingscliff, NSW, 12 August 2016

I’d like to thank you both very much for making the trek out to WA on the last leg of your long tour. It was very enriching to have you both here in terms of your depth and breadth of knowledge and experience and the excellent seminars you presented. Your visit has also acted as a catalyst to get local folks together and further develop the ideas we have been having around regional food systems. There are also several great leads we will follow up with you. We certainly hope you will be back in the west before too long. In the meantime, safe travels and good eating!
Laura Stocker, BSc, MSc, PhD,
Associate Professor, Curtin University
Sustainability Policy Institute

Anthony Flaccavento presenting to the Augusta-Margaret River Food and Agriculture Forum, 15 August 2016

Sustain says a very special thank you to Anthony Flaccavento and Kathryn Scharf, who provided their experience and perspectives to many hundreds of people over the course of the 10-day tour. The wisdom shared by Anthony and Kathryn, delivered with consummate skill and good humour, has already provided inspiration to many individuals and organisations. Here are a few examples:

  • In Tasmania, plans are well underway for the formation of a north-west Food Policy Coalition, to be coordinated by the Cradle Coast Authority in association with the University of Tasmania
  • In Canberra, six working groups have formed to support the planning for an ACT food hub, namely:
  1. Public Education/Engagement
  2. Healthy food to lower income folks
  3. Public policy advocacy
  4. Defining and developing market segments
  5. Developing supply
  6. Connectivity
  • In WA, Curtin University is working with Augusta-Margaret River Shire Council and local producer networks in discussions around the formation of a South-West Regional Food Alliance.

Kathryn Scharf of Community Food Centres Canada, at the Australian Community Food Hubs Conference, Bendigo, 8-9 August 2016

Sustain will support this work with the development of a national food systems directory, that will make visible the people, projects, research, policies and organisations most active in the food systems space around the country. This work is supported by our capacity building grant from the Myer Foundation, and we will be publishing more details over the coming weeks. The directory itself will be launched in the first quarter of 2017.

Dr Jen Alden, Bendigo Community Food Hubs conference

Sustain also says a big thank you to Dr Jennifer Alden, principal organiser of the Community Food Hubs conference in Bendigo, for her tireless efforts in making the Conference the outstanding success that it was. We also thank all the sponsors of the Bendigo Conference, namely the City of Greater Bendigo, Open Food Network, William Angliss Institute, La Trobe University, Melbourne Farmers Markets, Growing Change, Regional Food Network (SCU) and Pip Magazine.

Partner organisations for the national food hubs tour


  • La Trobe University
  • Curtin University
  • Regional Food Network (Southern Cross University)
  • University of Tasmania
  • University of Canberra


  • TAFE NSW North Coast
  • Bendigo Kangan Institute of TAFE
  • William Angliss Institute
  • TAFE NSW Riverina

Local Government

  • City of Greater Bendigo
  • Tweed Shire Council
  • City of Melbourne
  • City of Whittlesea
  • City of Redlands
  • Augusta-Margaret River Shire Council
  • Cradle Coast Authority

State Government

  • WA State Government
  • NSW State Government
  • Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority

Social enterprises & community groups

  • My Local Feast Farmers Market (Toowoomba)
  • Open Food Network
  • Melbourne Farmers Markets
  • Food Connect Brisbane
  • Canberra City Farm
  • Southern Harvest Network

More information:

This event has already taken place.

For more information about this past event, visit