Moments occur in time that with hindsight can appear as an alternative path or as a spark of inspiration that if pursued can lead to opportunities and connections. Recent occasions have inspired this post the first in a series of food.
While many perceive urban food as individual backyard or community garden activity, urban and peri-urban agriculture is an emerging area of importance for local council and communities. In a recent presentation at The Making Liveable Cities Conference 2014, I was pleased to find myself in a session focussed on food and food systems thinking.
My presentation on ‘Developing Food Resilience in Cities’ was followed by a presentation on the local region of Kiama, showcasing a range of regional food projects underway. The conference highlighted the shift in understanding of the importance of local food systems in the provision of social, economic and environmental benefits. In addition to the benefits of fresh food produce grown within urban areas there is a significant reduction in food miles (in contrast to mainstream distribution channels), greenhouse gas emissions, with strong social and economic potential promoting food production as a burgeoning career opportunity.
This morning was another spark. I was at a breakfast for the (soft) launch of ‘Design for Hope’ a book on international restorative approaches by colleagues Dominique Hes and Chrishna Du Plessis (available Routledge Nov 2014). Conversation was diverse yet contained within the field of restorative and regenerative approaches to life and our cities. Topics ranged from biomimicry, ecosystem services, urban ecologies, urban food and water, regional opportunities and projects occurring.Many of the attendees while working in differing fields from marine biology through to facilitation and architecture, are working towards restorative – positive systems and services.
The ‘local food system’ is both a common thread and the lens for my conversations due to current research and consultation work in developing urban food systems and ecosystem services within an urban ecology (see Conference Presentations for upcoming talks). Previous urban community activation and local food mapping projects by Innate Ecology (see image) continue to build engagement with local food. Ultimately, food is a resource reliant on ‘conditions conducive to life’, relevant across all habitats and an issue when habitat pollution occurs.
I met with Stacey Chilcott of Green Collar Productions whom spoke eloquently of her passion for documenting issues relating to community and food sources. In particular her film on the Vidamour Farm and its conversion to a local community food production facility and Farmer Incubator here on the Mornington Peninsula is inspiring. So too is her film The Future of the Riveria Maya on the aquifers of Mexico and the issues of marine and freshwater pollution and local ecosystem impacts.
Local food systems incorporating urban, peri-urban and rural production, processing, distribution and access is an emerging area in research. Follow the Innate Ecology facebook page for frequent updates on food production and systems, urban ecologies, city planning and design related information and this blog for regional updates.
I hope this provides inspiration and connections for others working in this area.