A City of Food Series
In 2014 Urban Agriculture Australia held this series of seminars examining the opportunities for urban agriculture in Canberra.
1. AGRICULTURE IN THE CITY
Can Canberra address its own food needs?
With traditional agricultural land disappearing, and people increasingly concerned over food issues, a response may come from the way we develop our city, gardens and open spaces.
This first event looked at Canberra’s current production & consumption situation, exciting efforts already underway for local food production, and the lessons from what other cities are doing to embrace urban agriculture.
SPEAKERS for SESSION 1: AGRICULTURE IN THE CITY
DR BETHANEY TURNER: Associate Professor at University of Canberra and lead author of the recently completed ‘Food in the ACT’ report. Bethaney has done extensive research exploring the complexity of the links between people, the food they grow, buy and consume. She provides a comprehensive understanding of Canberra’s food production and consumption.
MARK SPAIN: A long time advocate for urban agriculture in the ACT, and Vice President of the Canberra City Farm. Mark has extensive experience in transforming businesses by building capacity for innovation. With the Farm about to move into the inner city he will detail how this will provide significant public access to information and education: www.uaa.org.au.
HANNAH SCHWARTZ: Executive Officer of Melbourne organisation 3000Acres. This group successfully bridges the gap between traditional grassroots methods of growing urban food and city planning policies. They identify vacant land, and establishing strong relationships between community, business, and government: www.3000acres.org.
2. HIGH EFFICIENCY PRODUCTION
How can high efficiency production be achieved in small urban spaces?
Presenters examined newer production systems including ‘wicking’ garden beds, aquaculture, and urban apiary, that can provide a basis for achieving high yields of food production in sustainable ways.
SPEAKERS for SESSION 2: HIGH EFFICIENCY PRODUCTION
Will Allen: www.growingpower.org/about/leadership/will-allen
DR CALLY BRENNAN: A qualified permaculture designer Cally coordinated PermablitzACT for several years. She has developed substantial knowledge for applying permaculture principles to any size space and has specialised in developing wicking beds for over 4 years, finding more ways to ‘produce more with less effort’: www.permablitzact.com
EDWINA ROBINSON: Local landscape architect and wetlands specialist, responsible for a number of the wetlands within north Canberra. Edwina has used the knowledge gained from this to investigate the use of aquaculture within a domestic context. Her own system has not only proved the concept but provided a beautiful addition to her garden.
MITCHELL PEARCE: The energy behind Canberra Urban Honey, winners of the 2014 Sustainable Business Award. Mitch is Australia’s youngest urban commercial beekeeper. His passion is to help make Canberra a thriving, sustainable city and he is a regular speaker on all things bees and honey: canberraurbanhoney.com
3. RESIDENTIAL & SMALL SCALE APPROACHES
Can small scale or residential food production really make an impact in the food supply chain?
Our presenters for this session have been personally involved in doing just this for a number of years and the lessons they provided, and presented here, are invaluable to everyone attempting to produce urban food.
If you want to grow food for either personal or commercial use this session is a must.
SPEAKERS for SESSION 3: RESIDENTIAL & SMALL SCALE APPROACHES
Vancouver SoleFood Farms: www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0_PNVegIC4
DR RICHARD STIRZAKER: Project leader of CSIRO’s Irrigation Futures with primary research in irrigation, water use of farming systems and the ecological footprint of agriculture. He has pioneered different approaches for growing horticultural crops, and has a lifetime passion for the improvement of the efficiency and productivity of food crops.
DR MAARTJE SEVENSTER: A specialist in environmental life cycle management, Maartje has well over a decade of experience in environmental and social life cycle assessment, helping businesses increase efficiency and value in agricultural (renewable) chains. Her perspectives on urban agriculture will be invaluable: www.sevenster.org/environ
JOYCE WILKIE: With her partner Michael Plane, Joyce owns and operates the highly successful AllSun Farm at Gundaroo. A small holding of 40 hectares, the farm produces vegetables and free range poultry. Product goes directly to subscription customers and restaurants. The emphasis is on fresh, high quality produce and relationship marketing: www.allsun.com.au
4. FOOD FOR A CITY – COMMERCIAL VIABILITY
As a finale to our series, an invited panel examined the benefits and pitfalls, the potential and viability, for major urban agricultural enterprises to be established in the heart of the city of Canberra.
Can we embrace the possibility of producing a significant amount of the food we consume in the place we live?
Can we develop, literally, an agricultural city?
SPEAKERS for SESSION 4: FOOD FOR A CITY – COMMERCIAL VIABILITY
EXPERT PANEL with FACILITATOR MARK SPAIN: In the final session a Q&A style panel discussion has our previous presenters, and invited guests, bring their expert knowledge and experience to examining the viability of a commercial agricultural industry within Canberra’s urban environment. The discussion will be led by Mark Spain (see above), and will provide for a high level of audience interaction and involvement.
Previous panellists Dr Bethaney Turner, Dr Maartje Sevenster, and Dr Richard Stirzaker will be joined by Keith Colls (Canberra City Farm), and Nectar Efkarpidis (Director Molonglo Group, New Acton ).