Cardinia Food Forum


The 2017 Cardinia Food Forum was both a celebration and a call to action: a celebration of the wonderful things happening in food and farming across the Shire, and an opportunity to together build a response to the challenges we face.

This jam-packed day featured international and local speakers, workshops and round table discussions.

Keynote: Devita Davison

I want to tell the story of how the people of Detroit Michigan, have been able to transform their food system.
That’s the story I want to tell – of the people who believe
“be the change that you want to see”.
If you all want to see a fresh, healthy, equitable, just, fair, local food system then you have to be a part of that change.
— Devita Davison

We kicked off the morning with the official launch of the Cardinia Food Circles project and signing of the Urban and Regional Food Declaration by Cardinia Shire Council's new Mayor, Cr. Ross. 
Devita Davison, the Executive Director of FoodLab Detroit then took us on a journey to Detroit, Michigan and the work being done to rebuild the food and economy of the city following the collapse of the automobile industry that reduced the population of the city from
2 million to 700 000 and drastically reduced the number of grocery and fresh food outlets across neighbourhoods. 

The health impacts and lack of economic opportunity that occurred as a result of this exodus has sparked 'an amazing grassroots movement of community leaders and urban farmers and growers, restauranteurs and entrepreneurs' who form a burgeoning network of more than 1500 community gardens and urban farms involving more than 30,000 people' growing food. 

Since 2013, more than 240 businesses have been mentored and supported by Devita and the Detroit Food Lab and in the last year alone more than $7.5 million in sales were generated from these businesses in a city where over 40 per cent of the population live below the poverty line.

Keynote: Foodprint Melbourne

After Devita we heard from Jen Sheridan on the incredible research being done through the Foodprint Melbourne project, quantifying and capturing vital data on what grows in Melbourne’s city fringe foodbowl, the vulnerabilities in the city’s food supply and the critical importance of our ever-shrinking food-bowl areas, including Cardinia Shire. 

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After morning tea we broke into 'round tables'  and heard from a range of local and regional stakeholders about their work across four themes:

-Protecting Land to Grow Food
OriCoop, NextRural, 3000 acres, Victorian Eco Innovation Lab

-Enhancing Food Skills, Knowledge & Culture
Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, Aligned Leisure, Koo Wee Rup Regional Health, The Community Grocer

-Closing the Food Loop: Water, Waste & Space
FareShare, The 4Cs, The Dig In Cafe and Abbie Lane.

-Growing a Vibrant Local Food Economy. Mountain Harvest Foods, Emily Hill Farm, The Independent, Gembrook, Farmgate Online. 




Outcomes of the day: A Snapshot

People came from all over

103 people attended the event from right across Cardinia Shire and beyond: Teachers, Farmers, Chefs, Business owners, Health workers, Local residents, Community workers, Local government, Landcare networks and more!

New Connections

Across and between attendees and speakers, growing and strengthening the food movement and the work many people are doing.   

Strengthening existing initiatives and supporting new

Attendees were able to hear about some of the great work being done locally that they were previously unaware of (including The Dig In Cafe and The 4Cs) as well as new and developing initiatives including The Cardinia Community Grocer, The Pakenham Secondary College/CSM Organics Community School Farm, The Cardinia Food Network and opportunities to get involved.   


81 % of attendees who filled out evaluation forms were 'very satisfied' with the day, and many wrote that they gained knowledge and connections with and about the local food system, found out about opportunities to get involved and were inspired to become more active in the community!