Foodprint Melbourne is an interdisciplinary research project that investigates Melbourne’s foodbowl, what Melbourne eats, and how we can ensure we plan for a resilient and sustainable food future for the city.
The city-fringe farmland that feeds Melbourne
Australia is blessed with an abundant supply of fresh foods, including locally produced fruit and vegetables, but the findings of Foodprint Melbourne suggest that we shouldn’t take our food supply for granted, and that cities need to plan for a healthy and resilient food supply just as they plan for housing, transport and other essential services.
Melbourne’s foodbowl is the city-fringe farmland which currently produces enough food to meet 40% of the city’s food needs. But as the city sprawls, this could decrease dramatically as suburbs replace farms. By the time Melbourne reaches a population of 7 million, the city’s foodbowl may only be able to meet 18% of the city’s food needs. Melbourne’s foodbowl is particularly important to the city’s vegetable supply, growing almost half of the vegetables produced in Victoria.
Providing the evidence base for better planning
The Foodprint Melbourne project is working with project partners, including the City of Melbourne and peri-urban councils, to explore ways to create a more sustainable food supply for Melbourne.
If the city is able to accommodate its predicted population increase in a way that contains urban sprawl and retains the city’s capacity for peri-urban food production, Melbourne’s foodbowl could contribute to a more resilient city food supply in the face of increasing climate pressures on food production.
There are also opportunities to create droughtproof foodbowl areas, by increasing the use of recycled water from the city’s water treatment plants for food production in Melbourne’s foodbowl.
A key element of the project is to increase public awareness of the importance of Melbourne’s foodbowl by communicating the results widely through infographics, public reports and media.
The field of food system planning
The Foodprint Melbourne project builds on 10 years of research at the Victorian Eco-Innovation Laboratory into the design of sustainable food systems. It reflects an increased global focus on interdisciplinary approaches to food system planning - the planning of food systems from production through to consumption and the disposal of food waste. Food system planning encompasses elements of public health, land use planning, economic development and community building. It focuses on the design of food systems that are healthy, equitable, sustainable and resilient.
Reports, infographics, and other project outputs are available on the Foodprint Melbourne website.