The Shepparton Food Hub at SPC Ardmona KidsTown is envisioned to be a multi-functional site for growing food, teaching about fresh food production, local food trading and nutrition as well as generating tourism for the site and region. The aim is to make Shepparton a better place to live, improve quality of life, enhance the local economy, support tourism and become a leader in the local food movement in regional areas through strong education programs and enhanced environmental sustainability.
The Food Hub’s key goals are to improve Health, Education, & Tourism through food based activities, events, programs and information. The Shepparton Food Hub aims to:
1. Contribute towards the region’s food security by improving access to affordable fresh produce.
2. Provide space for growing food and learning about fresh food production, cooking, nutrition and gardening.
3. Allow for multiple activities and events to occur from small community gatherings to markets and festivals.
4. Build upon the existing infrastructure at KidsTown to improve usability as well as increase visitation and tourism opportunities.
5. Improve social, community and business networks through media, programs and events.
The Shepparton Food Hub evolved out of the City of Greater Shepparton’s desire to create a community garden at KidsTown adventure playground in Mooroopna. Emily Ballantyne-Brodie of Sustainable Everyday and Pollen Studio partnered to develop the physcial design as well as design for services of this place. Together we realised that this could be much more than just a garden and could help address a whole range of food-related issues for the Greater Shepparton region, hence the development of the strategy for the Shepparton Food Hub.
Greater Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley region is known as the ‘food bowl’ of Australia generating 25% of the total value of Victoria’s agricultural products, yet access to fresh food is still a problem for many people in the area, creating considerable food insecurity problems. One way of addressing this issue is to create community-led Food Hubs which is a place that centralizes local food services, provides food education programs and enhances community spirit. This is not so much a place for intensive food processing and distribution, but rather a social place for making connections, improving business and creating an enhanced food community.
A Design-led Food Communities (DFC) approach was used to carry out the Master Plan and Strategy for the Shepparton Food Hub. DFC derives from a Design-led Innovation framework. DFC engages innovation in four ways (1) via the economy, manufacturing and new business models, (2) via communities and participation models, (3) via policy and innovative governance models and (4) via action research to steer academic institutions.
The process aims to help set the Shepparton region on a pathway of creative and participatory solution-finding for its food system, inclusive of existing farmers, with the Food Hub as a physical focus for new businesses, community activities and supply chains. Resulting businesses will be strongly locally embedded and a new and emerging convial community embracing local fresh food.
The site has a strong connection with the local Yorta Yorta community and so an Indigenous Education Garden has been proposed adjacent to the neighbouring Goulburn River floodplain.
The Shepparton Food Hub is a $7million proposal that needs to unfold over multiple stages under a flexible implementation strategy that we hope will be supported by the local community, social entrepreneurs and businesses as well as local, state and federal government organisations. The project is currently being assessed as a draft by Greater Shepparton City Council with the aim of commencing in 2014/15.