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Illawarra, Central Sydney & Blue Mountains put food on the map

Posted on 31. Aug, 2009 by .

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An initiative organised by the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance (SFFA)

Report on regional events

Particpants at Illawarra

Particpants at Illawarra

Over 110 people gathered at the University of Wollongong on July 1 for the Illawarra lead in event to the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance (SFFA) NSW Food Summit Hungry for Change.  Coordinated by the local peak organisation Food Fairness Illawarra,  this was the first of a series of public forums during 2009, culminating in the Summit in October, to prepare the groundwork for developing a NSW Food Policy.

The mood was buoyant, with organic growers, academics and school garden experts chatting with folk from the big NGOs and various State and local government agencies. People had a shared purpose – to develop an equitable, sustainable food system in the Illawarra, one that is inspired both by successful local projects and commitment to create a healthy food future.

Rosemary Stanton

Rosemary Stanton

Keynote speaker Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM highlighted the need to balance nutrition and health with environmental sustainability and food literacy. Dr Susan Thompson, UNSW, unlocked the mysteries of planning for health and food security. Jenny Norman from HCI and Karen Tavener-Smith from SEIAHS explained the role of Food Fairness Illawarra in enabling access to healthy food by supporting community-based networks. Many local projects were represented on the day including community and school gardens, seed saving organisations, a community food coop, and a commercial organic farm.

Sandra McCarthy, Mayor of Kiama

Sandra McCarthy, Mayor of Kiama

Everyone strongly supported the need for a state Food Policy and were enthusiastic that local events were being held, to build on the existing local food actions. A range of practical policy strategies were identified, at local and state levels, to provide the supports needed for a sustainable food system:

  • Nutrition and food literacy education in schools and community
  • Clear and understandable food labellingFood safety regulations that do not inhibit small-scale diversified production
  • Support access to local food and local food production
  • Planning tools that enable urban food production on public land
  • Urban design to support access to healthy food
  • Integrated planning for sustainable food systems and food security
  • Protection for local agricultural land and incentives for sustainable local food production

Report of lead up event in City of  Sydney

On 2 July at Sydney’s Customs House a total of 160 people attended afternoon and evening sessions to hear Michael Shuman, an American local economics advocate, give an inspiring address about local and food-based social enterprises across the USA.

Participants then moved between ‘World Café’ style tables to consider 10 aspects of food security, fair food access and sustainable food futures. Much lively discussion ensued and a number of policy ideas will be forwarded to the Summit.

These included:

  • Support for alternative food distribution systems, especially medium-size businesses
  • Developing planning protections and agricultural zoning to maintain and preserve peri-urban agriculture
  • Development Applications to include food production
  • Local Environment Plans to include food production
  • Offer tax or other incentives to farmers to move to organic production
  • Provide training and other support to farmers
  • Support for local procurement policies in government institutions
  • Maximising opportunities for, and removing barriers to inner-city food production
  • Developing risk management strategies for food supply in case of disaster
  • Support for food projects in disadvantaged areas
  • Supermarket chains encouraged to reserve aisles for local producer

Blue Mountains

Professor Bill Bellotti

Professor Bill Bellotti

More than 60 people attended the Forum at Lawson on Saturday 18 July to hear
Catherine Beaver from the upper mountains St Vincent de Paul, Bill Bellotti, Vincent Fairfax Chair of Sustainable Agriculture, UWS, Sam Stratham, Rosnay organic producer,and Sally James., nutritionist.

Catherine spoke of the growing demand for emergency food relief in the Upper Mountains, Bill addressed the complex issues re the competing demands for the peri urban land around Sydney, Sam described the issues facing organic producers and Sally described the links between food and health.

Participants identified key issues in a world cafe forum and then addressed these issues in detail in three discussion group.   The groups then listed the strategies for  NSW and then strategies most relevant for the Blue Mountains.

A kitchen garden in every home

A kitchen garden in every home

These results can be found on the BM Forum site.
The results from these three events and the other local events to follow will be fed into the NSW Food Summit process, as well as used as briefing for local MPs, business leaders and other stakeholders.

Lead in events also include the regional areas, Central Coast (29th August) and Macarthur (15th September), prior to the Food Summit, 22nd-23rd October, Surry Hills. Further information on the Food Summit is at: http://www.sydneyfoodfairness.org.au/

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