In the final session of the 2018 national Urban Agriculture Forum (23-24 February at the Angliss Conference centre, Melbourne), participants workshopped the draft Urban Agriculture Manifesto that we circulated prior to the event.
We are extremely grateful to all participants who engaged so thoroughly and thoughtfully with this text. Below we reproduce the revised text, which we hope has done justice to the discussions and edits made during the Forum. The Manifesto can also be downloaded here: Urban Agriculture Forum Manifesto May 2018
This document is intended to present a considered, coherent and visionary agenda for major change to support this sector’s aspirations for a flourishing, healthy, resilient and regenerative food system. We believe it is achievable and necessary. While it is directed in the first instance towards the government that will be formed in Victoria following the November 2018 state elections, we believe it sets out an agenda for change that can be adapted and taken up nationally. We call on all our supporters and those who share the vision of a better food system to send this document to their MPs and political candidates.
The Urban Agriculture Forum Statement
Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Food System Renewal Manifesto
Revised at the 2nd national Urban Agriculture Forum
23-24 February 2018
William Angliss Institute, Melbourne
We live in an era of systemic crisis. Daily we see and hear stories attesting to the inherent unsustainability of the many systems that govern our lives. The most fundamentally important, and the one that has the greatest impact, is the food system: everything that happens from soil to stomach that enables humanity to feed itself. By changing the food system, we can successfully meet the challenges of this century. Making cities edible by growing food in, around and near to them – urban and peri-urban agriculture – has a major role to play in supporting this necessary transformation. It is an idea whose time has come.
The crisis is also manifest in social, physical and mental health impacts. Dietary-related disease is the biggest public health issue facing Australia. Our daily lives are relentlessly fast and busy, yet increasingly people report high levels of social isolation. More than ever before, we are disconnected from the social reality and ecology of our food system, and from each other.
Acknowledging this disconnection, we have come together to discuss ways that these problems can be addressed through necessary and urgent changes to the current food system. We believe that a vital part of a positive new system is sustainable urban agriculture.
The Forum Statement
We, the attendees of the Sustain Urban Agriculture Forum, meeting on Wurundjeri Land, acknowledging elders past, present, and future, and recognizing indigenous wisdom and multi-generational stewardship of the land now called Australia, call on the Victorian State Government to acknowledge and support the renewal of the Victorian food system to:
1. Recognise the critical role that sustainable rural, regional, urban and peri-urban agriculture plays in achieving multi-generational food security, to be achieved through:
1.1 Explicitly recognizing urban agriculture as a permitted use in residential, commercial and mixed-use zones in the Planning and Environment Act;
1.2. Creating and implementing a sustainable urban and peri-urban agriculture and land-use strategy, linked to multi-generational food security objectives;
1.3. Comprehensively mapping and permanently protecting all remaining high-value farmland within 200 kms of the CBD, linking this to productive corridors radiating outwards to all regional centres;
1.4. Creating dedicated urban and peri-urban agriculture zones within each of the existing 12 Green Wedge areas;
1.5. Supporting dedicated urban farms and market gardens, and associated public produce markets, throughout our cities, towns and suburbs;
1.6. Creating an urban agriculture fund to support community groups, not-for-profits and social enterprises; and
1.7. Fostering intra- and inter-state collaboration with other local and state governments to promote a shared statewide and national agenda for a healthy, sustainable and fair food system.
2. Acknowledge that FOOD IS FUNDAMENTAL TO LIFE and that major changes to the food system are required to support Victorians’ desire to enjoy a healthy and happy life, in connection with other people and nature, by:
2.1. Acknowledging indigenous food knowledge and traditions, integrating this into school curricula and supporting Victorian Aboriginal communities to cultivate their traditional grains and edible plants;
2.2. Mandating that every Victorian school have an edible garden and incorporate food growing, cooking and nutrition throughout the school curriculum;
2.3. Instigating food system literacy targets for all Victorian school children; and
2.4. Supporting and expanding the handful of pilot programs connecting school children with farms; and
3. Recognise that sustainable rural, regional, urban and peri-urban agriculture builds soil health, increases ecosystem resilience, encourages biodiversity and regenerates polluted waterways (“Regenerative Food System”), and therefore direct food and agriculture policy and programs to:
3.1. Protect our soils, waterways and ecosystems;
3.2. Work closely with indigenous elders in all places, acknowledging and respecting indigenous food sovereignty and land management;
3.3. Recognise and celebrate the leadership that many farmers at all scales and in all places – rural, regional and urban / peri-urban – are providing to help us transition to a Regenerative Food System;
3.4. Support market gardeners and farmers to transition to sustainable and regenerative forms of horticulture and agriculture;
3.5. Renew efforts to connect people with the source of their food; and
3.6. Serve the interests of all life, now and in the future
4. Protect the health and wellbeing of Victorians, especially by the most vulnerable, by:
4.1. Amending the Planning and Environment Act to make assessments of the health, wellbeing and environmental impacts of fast food retail outlets mandatory in planning approvals;
4.2. Prohibiting the opening of new fast food outlets within 1 km of educational and / or healthcare facilities; and reducing the density of existing fast food outlets near educational and healthcare facilities, recognising the vulnerability of lower socioeconomic areas to this industry; and
4.3 Advocating for strict controls on the advertising of fast foods and sugary sweetened beverages to audiences that include children and youth under 18.
5. Understand that FOOD IS BASIC TO HUMAN AND ECOSYSTEM PROSPERITY AND FLOURISHING in diverse monetary and non-monetary ways.
6. Recognise that FOOD IS CENTRAL TO CULTURAL VITALITY and value the importance of a food system in which all people know where their food comes from, appreciate different food cultures, and learn how to eat well so they can enjoy every day.
7. Recognise that FOOD IS DEEPLY POLITICAL, that it affects us all and therefore we must all have a voice in its current and future direction.
 ‘Fast food’ is here defined as ‘energy-dense, nutrient poor’ and predominantly pre-processed and prepared foods in a take-away / drive-through restaurant: Prentice, A.M. and Jebb, S.A. 2003. Fast foods, energy density and obesity: a possible mechanistic link. Obesity Reviews 4(4), 187-194.