South East Food Hub (formerly Casey)
VEIL is managing an action research with stakeholders in the City of Casey and the broader South East region, exploring “How Can Food Hubs Catalyse Healthy and Resilient Local Food Systems in Victoria: Developing a Food Hub in the City of Casey.”
The need for the project emerged from the growing awareness that the food system across the region is failing farmers as well as the wider community. The region is ‘one of Australia’s most fertile and valuable agriculture areas’ (City of Casey 2008), yet this is being eroded by the declining viability of farm businesses and the loss of farmland and farmers, in the face of urban growth and declining terms of trade. Research into food access in the region has found a high proportion of fast food outlets relative to fresh, locally grown, options and increasingly high levels of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in sectors of the population (City of Casey 2010). Food insecurity in the City is higher than the state average, and the vulnerability index (VAMPIRE) indicates that this could grow significantly with projected economic and climatic conditions.
This project is exploring the opportunities and barriers to the production, distribution and consumption of local food (particularly peri-urban) in the City of Casey (a Melbourne urban boundary suburb); modelling and trial of a ‘food hub’ to change the economics of consumption of local food with viable support for farmer-producers.
Research for this project involves a range of methods to adequately investigate the multiple components of a complex regional agri-food system. In depth interviews with local farmers, food-related businesses, institutions, community organisations and households are being used to map the ‘supply and demand’ of food across the region. Simultaneously these interviews are investigating the opportunities and challenges for the development of a regional food hub as well as building a core group of local stakeholders. This research is being complimented by extensive spatial mapping of key food production, processing, distribution and access points across the region to provide a framework for a collaborative re-design of existing systems and to identify strategic intervention opportunities.