Friday, April 19, 2013

Forging a Fair Food Future: getting energised by Melbourne's EcoCity Food Forum

Although we call ourselves a "food gardens network" our subscribers, followers, members and supporters include all manner of people with much more on their minds than just food gardens including food growing, food security and access, distribution, consumption as well as adjacent fields like research, sustainability, community building, health, government, education and so on. For me at least, this network is a terrific source of ideas, inspiration, solutions and support.

Like many of you I know there's a groundswell of effort in and around greater Melbourne towards establishing a sustainable, resilient food system that helps to build healthy, engaged communities.

Until Friday 22nd March though I had no idea of the scale of this groundswell.

Announced barely two weeks before, all 150 places for the EcoCity Food Forum in Melbourne were snapped up in 3 days (with another 50 on the waiting list). Participants came from an impressively diverse range of interest groups and backgrounds including residents, designers, community health, community gardens, social enterprises, software developers, business, agriculture, local government, academia, fair food advocacy groups. Between us we lead and contributed to an inspiring array of nearly 36 sessions that covered topics like:
  • mapping community food assets - 
  • fostering a new generation of farmers
  • open source software development
  • buying clubs
  • urban agriculture for resilient cities
  • the People's Food Plan
  • City of Melbourne's lean collaboration Citylab initiative
  • scaling up small scale community projects
  • changing attitudes to waste
  • backyard farmers co-op
  • threats to peri-urban agriculture resources
  • connecting farmers to the local food movement
  • food production in the City of Melbourne
  • the economics of urban farming
Have a squiz at this storify page which gives a bit of a flavour of it.

Avoiding a traditional conference model in favour of an 'unconference' that used Open Space Technology we shared our stories, explained our visions, sought answers, proposed and promoted projects, challenged preconceptions, gathered support, stimulated debate and more.

We were hosted by the fantastic folks at Doing Something Good with sustenance prepared by social Kinfolk using food donated for the event. An amazing show of volunteer power and goodwill.
enterprise cafe

All this in the name of forging a fair food future for our society.

Seeing this many people in one place vigorously connecting (or reconnecting), engaging with each others ideas and building upon each others' enthusiasm was energising and inspiring. I can't wait to see the efforts that emerge from all the committed people who attended.

Let's do it again! SOON.
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