What We Do

Sustain is a think and do network with extensive experience and expertise in delivering outcomes in food systems change. Our expertise covers project management, events coordination, consultancy, research and network development. We work with multiple individuals and organisations from the public, community, business and academic sectors to design and deliver innovative solutions and approaches to a range of food system challenges. Our work creates multiple avenues for shaping food systems thinking and practice, directed towards optimising public health and wellbeing outcomes for the Australian community as a whole. We are trialling collective impact models and new forms of engagement between producers, distributors, businesses, consumers and government in Victoria through food systems and social enterprise projects.

A better food system is one that is:

  • Fairer for farmers: more of the food dollar going back to our producers
  • Sustainable and better for our environment: we support regenerative agriculture that champions bio-diversity and reduces climate change
  • Healthy, fresh and local
  • Generates less waste: food and by-products

Our work programs encompass the following areas:

Events

Sustain has coordinated several major conferences, forums and summits. We are involved with events on a regular basis throughout the year. In this way we shape and lead the sustainable and healthy food systems conversation in Australia.

Inaugural Australian Community Food Hubs conference, August 2016

Our major events have included the following:

  • Inaugural Australian Community Food Hubs conference and speaking tour (August 2016)
  • First (November 2016) and Second (February 2018) national Urban Agriculture Forums and speaking tours
  • 21st Symposium of Australian Gastronomy in Melbourne (December 2016)
  • First Cardinia Food Forum (November 2017) with 100 attendees (Pakenham)

Consultancy

We offer expertise in the following areas:

  • Community engagement in food systems and urban agriculture
  • Participatory workshop design and facilitation
  • Food systems mapping and analysis
  • Participatory food policy and strategy design
  • Food Hub scoping, feasibility and business planning

We have jointly conducted food hub feasibility studies for the City of Greater Bendigo (2015), the Food for All Alliance in North-East Victoria (2016), the City of Wyndham (2017), the City of Darebin (2017) and Cardinia Shire Council (2017- 18). We have conducted food systems background mapping and generated food systems profiles for the City of Whittlesea (2015), Yarra Ranges Shire Council (2015) and Cardinia Shire Council (2017).

Food Systems Profile, City of Whittlesea, January 2016

Research

We carried out case studies of the work of agribusiness officers in the City of Whittlesea and Mornington Peninsula Shire Council (2015), published a mapping and review of urban agriculture and related strategies across 18 local councils (2016), supporting the publication of the Foodprint Melbourne report published by the Victorian Eco Innovation Lab (2016), and published a 60-page pilot study into the Bendigo Local Food Economy involving interviews with multiple businesses, producers, council staff and community organisations (2017). We submitted a report to the Victorian TAFE Food and Fibre Coalition on the role of the vocational training sector in supporting economic development and entrepreneurship, based on interviews and site visits to community colleges in Ontario and Quebec (2016).

Network building

We have facilitated regular meetings of the Local Government Urban Agriculture Network with staff from more than 15 local councils. We established a Food Governance Taskforce that developed published a Position Paper on the role of local government in economic development, health and wellbeing, and planning (2017). We created an Australian Food Systems Directory [link] with more than 550 listings of organisations, research, policies, projects, infrastructure and people to make visible the sustainable food systems sector in Australia. We are working with Perth NRM and institutions in Western Australia to support the formation and development of the WA Food Future Alliance.