There is a need for cross-sectoral policies that promote and support a healthy, sustainable and safe food system. A first step is defining such a system.
Growing local and organic supports the environment closest to you and reduces pollution. It also avoids the use of more than 700 chemicals that are used in conventional agriculture and cause declines in bees and pollinators.
Young Farmers Movement (YFM)
The Young Farmers Movement (YFM) aims to provide a strong voice for Australia’s Agriculture industry and develop the sector leaders of tomorrow. It promotes a holistic approach to food production, and is particularly keen on sustainable farming practices that are respectful of the natural environment. It also supports the growth of small-scale and craft agricultural enterprises, as well as local farmer’s markets.
The YFM also provides opportunities for young people to connect with the community and learn from others. Its annual conference features presentations from renowned international speakers, as well as a wide range of local and national presenters. Its members are highly educated and motivated, and have a passion for farming. They are also interested in promoting sustainability and organics in their local communities and beyond.
Youth YFM councils have the opportunity to attend the annual conference and showcase their work to an audience of industry leaders. The conference offers many networking opportunities as well as the chance to engage with government agencies. The YFM is also involved in community engagement, and has a strong focus on social justice issues.
YFM is a non-profit organisation, and relies on public donations to support their efforts. They work closely with governments and industry stakeholders to ensure that the Australian farming landscape is both productive and sustainable. Their work is supported by a network of partners who are committed to the future of agriculture in Australia.
In the mainstream media, a dominant framing of young farmers emphasises the adoption of new technology and entrepreneurship as the main strategy for attracting youth into farming. However, civil society actors emphasise that these initiatives are not addressing the structural barriers to youth enrolment in agriculture. Moreover, the dominant discourse of young technological and business-savvy entrepreneurs works to sideline discourses on rural development and agrarian reform.
Similarly, policy actors have promoted ‘optimising narratives’ that legitimise efficiency and innovative technology as the primary policy solutions for increasing youth enrolment in farming. This approach fails to address the fact that the most prominent barrier is the lack of access to land. The cost of purchasing or leasing farmland is often prohibitive, especially for those without family connections to agricultural land.
Sustainable Agriculture & Gardening Eurobodalla (SAGE)
The Sustainable Agriculture & Gardening Eurobodalla (SAGE) community of growers, eaters and supporters has re-established local food production on the NSW coast, working toward food sovereignty for the region. SAGE has established a farmers market and market garden, an internship program, and ongoing education programs. The group is also involved in a series of community gardens that promote gardening and growing skills in the region.
Using locally-grown food is not only good for the environment, but it is also great for local businesses. For example, Sydney restaurant Three Blue Ducks is taking a no waste approach to its operations and is sending its organic waste straight back to the community gardens in which it operates. In addition, the restaurant is carbonating its own water and reducing the amount of plastic it uses.
The SAGE Farmers Market is a weekday market in Moruya that has been operating since 2013. The market connects the community with locally-grown food and aims to provide an authentic marketplace for local producers. The market sells produce from a variety of growers, including backyard gardeners and 100-hectare farms that use conventional horticulture methods, as well as spray-free, bio-farming techniques.
SAGE’s market garden, Stepping Stone Farm, is designed to overcome systemic barriers for new growers by providing hands-on training and mentorship. The farm is run by Joyce Wilkie, who serves as the market garden manager and intern mentor. The farm also has a nine-month internship program that offers aspiring market gardeners an opportunity to grow and learn on the job without having to invest in their own commercial site.
The SAGE Education program teaches the public about sustainable living and the importance of local food production. The educational programs include workshops, talks and demonstrations on topics ranging from seed saving to cooking. In addition to this, the group hosts community markets and an annual event called festival21. Festival21 brings together food experts and entrepreneurs to discuss how they can help steer Australia toward a better future through food. The festival features over 20 organizations that are working to change the way Australians think about growing, eating, and purchasing food.
The 25-acre Acre Eatery aims to be more than just a restaurant; it’s also an urban rooftop farm. The property features a variety of hydroponic glasshouses, quail coops, worm farms and more than 2500sqm of garden beds that bring local, organic produce straight to the restaurant.
The menu, created by Israeli Head Chef Eitan Doron, celebrates seasonal Australian cuisine with the majority of dishes being cooked over a woodfire grill. Highlights include whole roasted cauliflower, a smoky take on the classic potato salad and a whole barramundi that’s expertly smoked over a custom-built coal pit.
In addition to prioritising fresh, local ingredients, Acre also focuses on sustainable practices and reducing food waste. For instance, the venue uses reusable utensils and Forever Ware takeout containers, and donates leftover food to a nearby charity organisation twice a week. It also partners with other local restaurants to divert and reduce their food waste.
Wise Acre goes beyond its restaurant, however; the business aims to influence sustainability in the wider community by advocating for better communication and connection between restaurants, delis, and markets. Jimmy Red Layer, the director of Wise Acre, says it’s vital to promote these partnerships, as they can be key to promoting sustainability in the hospitality industry.
As well as hosting a thriving restaurant, Half Acre is also home to an outdoor terrace and an indoor/outdoor events space designed to work around the ever-changing Melbourne climate. The space is reminiscent of a glasshouse, utilising brick walls and trestles to create a rustic yet modern setting that can be used for weddings, parties and corporate dinners.
Guests of the Secret Foodies evening dined on a selection of share-inspired dishes paired with a range of wines from Grant Burge Wines. A light mound of cured ocean trout paired with fermented beets and chive cream was an elegant appetiser, while a buttery shard of Barossa Bark lavish matched perfectly with a glass of Grant Burge 10-Year-Old Tawny.
With the night winding down, the dessert course was brought out; a simple apple tart tatin. With a thick lashing of creme fraiche ice cream and a sprinkle of praline shards, it was hard to resist this final dish. With their stomachs nearly full, guests were then offered one last sip of Grant Burge’s Barossa Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon. With its rich flavour and bold finish, this wine was a perfect complement to the end of the meal.
There is a growing movement for healthy, sustainable food in South Australia. This movement has been supported by the emergence of restaurants that use locally-sourced food and produce. These restaurants are becoming increasingly popular among consumers, as they believe that using locally-sourced ingredients will lead to better quality food and a healthier lifestyle. In addition to this, the restaurant industry is also taking a stand against food waste. Several restaurants have embraced the nose to tail concept, where they use all parts of an animal for cooking and thus reduce waste. This is inspired by the slow food movement, which encourages a greater connection to the origins of food. The Acre Eatery in Artarmon is one of the restaurants that has embraced this philosophy.
The food-related policy actors surveyed were interested in improving their community’s access to healthy foods and in ensuring that the planning sector supports local food production. The majority of respondents agreed that they could contribute to these objectives by implementing policies regarding the preparation, processing, labelling and marketing of food, health literacy and advocacy around dietary guidelines.
Respondents from the environment, primary industries and agriculture departments primarily focused on the need to produce food that is safe for human consumption. In the words of one respondent, this meant a system that can ‘assure consumers of low risk of contaminants and residues from the agricultural process, as well as a high level of biodiversity preservation’.
Moreover, the policy actors surveyed were concerned about a lack of public interest in organic gardening and home food production. They argued that the reason for this was a consumer ‘alienation and gullibility’ and a ‘lack of knowledge’ about ecology and food. Lastly, the respondents emphasized the need to develop local infrastructure and support local food producers.
Edible Gardens (EG) survey respondents were located across metropolitan Adelaide, with the vast majority living within the city boundary. EG survey participants were asked to identify the food they grew in their homes, the gardening approaches and production methods they used, and the estimated inputs that went into their gardens.