Seona Candy, Sustainable Food Systems at Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL) – What does it take to feed a city?

Patrick Blampied 2016 Speakers

It takes a lot of land, water and energy to feed a rapidly growing city like Melbourne, and a significant amount of food waste and GHG emissions are generated as a result. Seona Candy will be presenting her findings on what it takes to feed Melbourne now, and when there are 7 million of us. She researches sustainable food systems at the Victorian Eco-innovation Lab (VEIL).

Did you know?

  • It takes over 475L of water per capita per day to feed Melbourne, around double the city’s household usage
  • 16.3 million hectares of land is required to feed Melbourne each year, an area equivalent to 72% of the state of Victoria
  • Feeding Melbourne generates over 907,537 tonnes of edible food waste, which represents a waste of 3.6 million hectares of land and 180 GL of water
  • Around 4.1 million tonnes of GHG emissions are emitted in producing the city’s food, and a further 2.5 million tonnes from food waste
  • Melbourne is likely to grow rapidly between now and 2050, and its foodprint will increase signi cantly as a result
  • Melbourne’s city foodbowl could play an important role in increasing the resilience and sustainability of the city’s food supply
  • The city foodbowl has significant capacity for production of fresh foods. It also has access to recycled water and organic waste streams, and could reduce the city’s dependence on distant sources of fresh foods
  • Key vulnerabilities in Melbourne’s regional food supply include loss of agricultural land, water scarcity and the impacts of climate change
  • Potential strategies to increase the sustainability and resilience of Melbourne’s regional food supply include increasing urban density, shifting to regenerative agriculture, increasing the use of recycled water for agriculture, reducing food waste and modifying our diets
  • Multiple strategies are likely to be needed to increase the sustainability and resilience of Melbourne’s regional food supply
  • Around 10% of the available recycled water from Melbourne’s water treatment plants would be enough to grow half of the vegetables that Melbourne eats
  • Increasing urban density as Melbourne grows could reduce urban sprawl by about 50% over the next 20 years, saving 180,000 hectares of land in Melbourne’s foodbowl – an area equivalent to almost 5 times Victoria’s vegetable growing land

These are some of the findings of the Footprint Melbourne Report, which is a research project that investigates Melbourne’s foodbowl. They’re investigating where the city’s food comes from currently and the potential for Melbourne to source more of its food from within the state of Victoria in future.

As supplies of the natural resources underpinning food production become more constrained, the city will need to explore new approaches to increase the sustainability and resilience of its food supply. This report aims to provide an evidence base to support this process.

Seona Candy will be presenting these findings and more at the 2016 Future of Local Food Conference.

Information sourced from Footprint Melbourne Report, June 2016