Food crisis on horizon


URBAN sprawl could eat up Melbourne’s foodbowl and see future generations starved of locally produced food if governments do not protect agricultural land on the city’s fringes and outer suburbs according to an independent report released this week.

The Melbourne’s Foodbowl: Now and at seven million report by Foodprint Melbourne, a collaboration between the University of Melbourne and the Victorian Eco Innovation Lab, warns about 16 per cent of the farmland in Melbourne’s foodbowl may be lost “if current trends are maintained, including up to 77 per cent in the inner foodbowl”.

Alarmingly, the report predicts the foodbowl will be able to produce just 18 per cent of the city’s food demands by 2050 when Melbourne’s population is predicted to soar to 7 million.

The foodbowl currently produces enough food to meet about 41 per cent of Melbourne’s food needs.

The City of Kingston is included in Melbourne’s inner foodbowl and several market gardens in Kingston’s Green Wedge produce highly perishable crops that can only be consumed within Victoria due to their perishable nature.

The inner foodbowl produces 96 per cent of the state’s berry fruits, 94 per cent of its asparagus, 92 per cent of its cauliflowers, 88 per cent of its mushrooms, 66 per cent of its broccoli, 62 per cent of its lettuce and 93 per cent of its herbs.

The inner foodbowl also produces 35 per cent of the state’s eggs and 59 per cent of the state’s chicken meat, according to the Melbourne’s Foodbowl report.

Deakin University planning and food policy expert Dr Rachel Carey, who worked on the research project, told The News earlier this year that it is vital to not use more farmland for urban development.

“Melbourne’s market gardens are an important part of the city’s foodbowl and Melbourne’s foodbowl is made up of many smaller areas that are scattered around the city and they’re very important because there are fewer of them left,” she said.

The Melbourne’s Foodbowl report notes: “The current Victorian state government has indicated that it intends to maintain the existing Urban Growth Boundary. However, Melbourne’s UGB has been moved four times since it was instituted as a permanent boundary in 2002. There is ongoing pressure for further expansion, and the state planning policy framework currently lacks effective measures to prevent further loss of productive agricultural land”.

The inner foodbowl is the metropolitan area of Greater Melbourne and includes Kingston. The inner foodbowl includes areas of food production such as the Yarra Valley and the Mornington Peninsula, as well as lesser known regions, such as Cranbourne and Koo Wee Rup and Werribee.

The outer foodbowl is the next ‘ring’ of peri-urban local government areas that includes regions in the ‘Peri-Urban Group of Rural Councils’, such as Bacchus Marsh and Baw Baw Shire.

A plan by the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust to buy about 130 hectares of green wedge land north of Old Dandenong Rd to develop land for a cemetery and memorial park could further erode Melbourne’s foodbowl (‘Cemetery plot kills business plans’, The News 21/10/15).

The decision to allow Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust to buy land in Kingston’s Green Wedge will be made by the Labor state government.

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 16 December 2015

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