Urban food production: the new food bowl

By Kelly Jirsa

Urban Garden and Farming
Urban Garden and Farming
The city and city fringes of Australia are fast becoming a major food supply.

Climate Changes are affecting the resilience and reliability of our food supply; it’s becoming more difficult to rely on rural areas as farmers battle water shortages, floods and extreme weather.

During the Queensland floods in 2010 and 2011 roads relied on for food transportation were closed, cutting off supplies to supermarkets in Brisbane and other centres.

Major regional food bowls like the Murray Darling Basin, covering the majority of Australia’s south eastern interior, are seeing reduced rainfall necessitating a plan to manage the water division between farms. The price on the water they rely on for irrigation means the farmers are feeling the pinch.

“We’re seeing in this very season, prices spiking quite alarmingly for a lot of people who simply are priced out of that market buying water to grow a crop next season.”

Mark McKenzie, CEO of The NSW Irrigators’ Council.

City dwellers are taking to producing their own fruit and veggies in urban gardens and choosing locally produced food, often grown on the city’s fringes.

Collingwood Children's Farm in suburban Melbourne
Collingwood Children’s Farm in suburban Melbourne


Urban agricultural initiatives have been emerging in the last 20 or so years, with projects being set up in low socioeconomic areas to give people access to affordable fresh produce and providing skill-sharing opportunities. Initiatives like ‘Cultivating Community’ have been establishing public housing community gardens and school food gardens since 1998 in Melbourne.

“With urban food production it is about people valuing food and fresh food in particular. There’s nothing like the notion of being involved in producing some of your own food to give you an appreciation of the value of food – we undervalue food, it’s as simple as that.”

Professor Robin Batterham, Chemical Engineer and former Chief Scientist of Australia.

This year to celebrate Earth Hour the World Wildlife Fund produced the cookbook ‘Planet to Plate’, a recipe book that features seasonal produce that incorporate stories from the farmers that produce it. The farmers also talk about how global warming is impacting their farms and the nation’s availability of fresh, home-grown food.




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