Fair Food emerges as a movement
Food is not a sector like any other: it is fundamental to our health and well-being as individuals; to who we are as a culture; and ultimately to our very survival as a species. Recognising the lack of vision and leadership on these profound questions, the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance was formed in 2010, consciously linking Australia to the global movement for food sovereignty, with the aim of promoting a different, values-based national conversation on the future of our food and farming systems.
Like most countries, Australia has a long tradition of backyard food growing, yet this dwindled significantly with the rise of the supermarkets and fast food in the post-war era. Now backyard food growing is returning strongly, with recent surveys suggesting over 50% of adults are involved. Many are also involved in community food production, especially community gardens and school kitchen gardens, which have expanded rapidly since the 1990s. The permaculture movement, which began in the late 1970s, has also been influential in the growth of community and backyard gardening, as well as small-scale bio-diverse agriculture. The farmers markets movement in Australia is also experiencing rapid growth, from a very low base in 1999 to over 150 today.
Peoples Food Plan, Fair Food Week, ‘Fair Food’ documentary
In its short life, AFSA has undertaken a series of strategically significant initiatives that are beginning to articulate a coherent ‘fair food movement’ in Australia, based on food sovereignty principles. These include:
- the Peoples Food Plan, Australia’s first ‘crowd-sourced’ food policy text, which involved over 600 people participating in 40 public forums throughout the country from September to December 2012.
- Australia’s first Fair Food Week  (19-25 August 2013, involving 112 events in every state and territory with an estimated 15,000 people participating
- Australia’s first food politics documentary, ‘Fair Food’, a joint project with the Locavore Edition in Melbourne
- The launch of Fair Food Farmers United, a farmer-to-farmer knowledge-and experience-sharing project to promote understanding of food sovereignty principles and practices amongst Australian producers
- A campaign for a Local Food Act, drawing on the inspiration of the Ontario Local Food Act and $30 mn Local Food Fund (Nov 2013)
Urban and Regional Food Network & Charter
Since September 2013 the Food Alliance (Deakin University) has begun the process of establishing Australia’s first Urban and Regional Food Network, bringing together 20 local governments as well as a wide and expanding cohort of researchers, food businesses, health professionals, planners, community gardeners, not-for-profit organisations, Transition groups, permaculturalists and others. This Network has collaboratively developed as a key strategic priority the development and implementation of an Urban and Regional Food Charter for Victoria, as a systemic and integrated text to drive forward legislative and policy change and shape practice across the state. This will be a model to be replicated in other Australian states and territories and will provide a substantial boost to the movement for urban agriculture and fair food in Australia.