The Foodprint Melbourne Research Project

The Foodprint Melbourne research project engages various stakeholders to determine how our growing city can continue to feed itself as the population expands. Team members Dr Rachel Carey, Jennifer Sheridan, Kirsten Larsen and Dr Seona Candy have made an important contribution to our understanding of Melbourne’s foodbowl, with the project’s findings shaping the city’s planning for the future.

The Foodprint Melbourne project, conducted over four years by an interdisciplinary team of researchers, aimed to address a fundamental challenge: how to feed a growing population in the face of climate change and an expanding urban sprawl. It became apparent early in the research that there was a lack of political and public awareness of the significant contribution that Melbourne’s fringe provides to the city’s food supply. The team has been awarded the 2019 Excellence in Engagement — Research Award for their work to develop public understanding of the importance of Melbourne’s foodbowl.

Adopting a case study approach, the team turned their focus to Melbourne, the fastest growing city in Australia. The research group, comprised of team members from the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences and the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, formulated a Stakeholder Advisory Group to provide guidance to the research. With representation from the City of Melbourne, peak representative bodies for local government areas and several councils that reside over Melbourne’s fringe, the Group worked to shape research questions, discuss research findings and devise ways to best communicate their work to stakeholders and policy makers.

Stakeholders may sometimes ask challenging questions about your research, but their questions help you to improve the research, making it stronger and more impactful. The Foodprint Melbourne research project team

The research findings have been instrumental for the planning and future of the city, with the Victorian Government citing the research in the inaugural Resilient Melbourne strategy (2016) and the research also helped to strengthen the case for protection of agricultural land, as outlined in Melbourne’s metropolitan strategy Plan Melbourne 2017–2050.

We’re continuing to work collaboratively with partners, including the City of Melbourne, and we’re applying what we’ve learned in previous phases about engaging a wide range of stakeholders to develop innovative solutions to complex food system problems. The Foodprint Melbourne research project team

The research continues to evolve, with current research aiming to implement changes to strengthen the resilience of Melbourne foodbowl in the face of climate shocks such as storms, floods and droughts.