Nestled against the south-eastern flank of metropolitan Melbourne is the Shire of Cardinia, where a journey from top to bottom transports you from hills of towering Mountain Ash forests, alongside laden fields of potatoes and apple orchards, from bustling urban centres to wide open asparagus flats and all the way through to the shores of Westernport Bay.
It is beautiful country, and a diverse range of people call it home, first and longest of which are its traditional custodians, the Boonwurrung and Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation.
Here at the interface where city literally meets farm, the full impact of Melbourne’s rapid growth takes form. Dairy cows browse placidly in their paddock, while house by house suburbs take shape on the other side of the road. Approximately three to four families move into Cardinia Shire every day, and the population is expected to grow from current levels of 99 192 people to an ultimate population of about 180 306 by the year 2036. This rapid growth and rate of change bring with them both significant challenges, and opportunity as the economic, ecological, political and cultural landscapes transform.
Coupled with this growth is an increase in a range of big, pressing and complex challenges that affect the health, wellbeing and quality of life of many who call this place home.
Some of the factors at play in this include:
- For 1 in 5 households the cost of housing constitutes more than half their income
- For every essential food outlet, there are 6 non essential food outlets
- 55% of residents travel outside of the Shire to get to work
- 13% of children come from families that ran out of food and can’t afford to buy more
Our Local Food System
When we talk about our local food system, we’re talking about pretty much everything that has to do with food: from farm to processor to shop to breakfast table to rubbish bin and all the places in between.
At every node across our local Cardinia Shire Food System we face critical challenges including:
Production: Increasing urbanisation = reduction of land for farming and pressure on remaining farmers
Distribution: Supermarkets are the dominant player in distribution networks = low prices for large farmers, too big for small farmers and too far to travel for some community members
Access: The ratio of healthy to fast food out lets is 6:1 = dominance of unhealthy food options
Consumption: Long commutes to employment = less time to cook and people’s food knowledge or ‘food literacy’ is reducing.