Sunday, May 10, 2015

Yarra Council budget betrayal cuts Urban Agriculture support (AGAIN!) Demand it back! Send an email by Wed 13th May (please share this)

"Time and again I talk to people who cite the progressive approach Yarra Council took in 2012 appointing a dedicated urban agriculture facilitator. They did what every council needs to do - established a dedicated resource to make it easier to grow more food in the city. They made it somebody's job to help and ended the urban-ag hand-balling that happens in councils everywhere. Yarra has managed to get so much done since putting this role in place. 
It was thanks to the hard work of lots of local food people in Yarra that this ever happened and they've had to fight hard to keep it. They and their council established a beacon for the rest of us.
Sadly, Yarra Council's draft budget has provisionally cut the funding for this position."

Sounds familiar right? Only a year ago Yarra threatened to remove funding for their urban ag facilitator. Following a record number of community submissions and petitions protesting against the cuts, the funding was re-instated into the final budget.

Funding dumped again

Yarra Council has once again dumped its widely recognised Urban Agriculture Program from their draft budget.

Current funding ($100,000 in total) for the Urban Agriculture Officer’s position and approximately $50,000 for public gardening projects have been cut, ending Council’s widely lauded support for residents wanting to green their streets and laneways, and set up innovative forms of community gardens. The operating expenditure budget is listed as $158.7 million.

What can you do?

If you oppose these cuts please email Council by next Wednesday May 13th to demand the program be refunded (see contact details below). We have it on good authority that if we can secure a vote to retain the Program we should not have to re-visit this same situation again.

To make this happen though your urgent support is needed to demand that Council reinstate the Urban Agriculture funding into their final budget. 

If we are to save Urban Agriculture in Yarra it is vital to provide your feedback to Council:

What can you say?

The following are some arguments you may wish to use in your comments to Council:
  • The budget cut betrays previous commitments to the Yarra community that Council would promote urban agriculture and support residents to develop gardens in public spaces:
The Council Plan (2013-2017) highlights the importance of Urban Agriculture and encourages a focus on it for the next four years.
The Yarra Environment Strategy (2013-2017) includes the implementation of an Urban Agriculture Strategy.  
Council’s Urban Agriculture Strategy was endorsed by Councillors only last December after a community consultation. Axing the officer’s position effectively abandons any strategy implementation. 
  • That the cuts will jeopardise Yarra Council’s recognised role as a leader in Urban Agriculture. 
  • There is widespread community desire for urban agriculture and an expectation that Yarra Council will support residents to be involved with initiatives on public land. 
  • The ability of residents to grow fresh and nutritious food in public spaces in times of increasing food prices is both a health and social justice issue. 
  • Many residents don’t have space for private gardens, and their only alternative is to grow food on public gardens on roads or laneways.  
  • Local food growing reduces food-miles, helps avoid over-consumption and encourages composting and less organic waste to landfill.
  • Growing food in street planter boxes, community gardens or gardens in laneways promotes social contact between neighbours, encourages the sharing of gardening skills and educates urban children where food comes from.   
  • Growing local food will help our city become more sustainable and liveable. 
  • That gardening is great exercise and Council should promote it for health reasons – its also good fun. 

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