EcoCity Food Forum 2013 with City of Melbourne

Back in February we started talking with City of Melbourne about running an event to bring together people working toward a better food system. The main objectives were to discover existing and planned food enterprises and initiatives, explore ways all could support each other, and identify opportunities to work together – particularly with activities that could help City of Melbourne achieve the vision set out in its Food City food policy.  The belief being that with shared knowledge, greater connection and collective action we can have greater impact with our efforts transforming our current food system to one that is sustainable, resilient and fair for all.

In response we put together the EcoCity Food Lightning Talks and the EcoCity Food Forum.

The EcoCity Food Lightning Talks on Thursday 21 March was an evening with seven speakers – thought leaders, pioneers and ‘foodpreneurs’ – presenting inspiring and provocative five minute talks and sharing their experience and insights from their work building a better food system. The EcoCity Food Forum on Friday 22 March was a full day of participant-led conversations, presentations, workshops and planning sessions exploring how we might build a sustainable, resilient and fair food system together.


Both events brought together passionate community members, local and state government representatives, academics, health professionals and a wide range of people from across the food sector, from Melbourne and around the country. This is clearly a hot topic. Tickets for the EcoCity Food Forum were snapped up in two-and-a-half days, with 80 people coming along to the EcoCity Food Lightning Talks, and 150 (a packed house) participating in the EcoCity Food Forum. It was great to see.

>> Read more about the EcoCity Food Lightning Talks here and watch the videos on the Doing Something Good YouTube Channel.

>> You can also see what else happened on the Lightning Talks via the Storify social media summary.

The EcoCity Food Forum

EcoCity Food Open Space Schedule

The EcoCity Food Forum format was based on Open Space Technologies. Our intention was to maximise the exchange of knowledge and ideas, and to foster the development of relationships. On the day participants ran 35 sessions (45 minutes each) covering a wide range of topics including ‘Demystifying the Food Supply Chain for Consumers’, ‘How to Grow a Farmer Movement’, ‘Open Source Software and Food Systems’, ‘Investing in Local Food’ and ‘Urban Agriculture for Resilient Cities’.

Knowledge and Information Capture

In order to capture as much useful data on the day we used four channels:

    1. Social media – Primarily generated by participants on Twitter and Instagram, we were able to see in real-time the content, comments and questions relating to each of the sessions. #EcoCityFood became a trending topic on Twitter in Melbourne with over 100 people on the day reaching over 100,000 people around the world with their tweets.
      > > We have put together a Forum Storify summary of tweets, pictures and links to interesting websites, projects and resources


mentioned on the day, which you’ll find here.

  • Google docs – In each of the sessions we had participants and volunteers capturing notes that were entered into this online form. Content fed in to this spreadsheet which can be openly and collaboratively shared and edited.
    >>  We’re currently working on a report based on what was captured in these sessions. If you’re able to add anything to the information already captured, we’d love you to do so here.
  • Asset Map – In conjunction with the team from Collabforge, prototyping a pop-up version of CityLab, we started an asset map to capture and share knowledge and information about the people, organisations, projects, places, spaces and resources that support the development of a better food system – in and around Melbourne and across Australia. (see image to right).
    > >  We’re still collating and collecting data for the asset map which we’ll be sharing as part of a report in a few weeks. We’d also like your contributions – see What’s Next below.citylab
  • Crowdspot – One of the gaps we identified when it came to available data, is information relating to the location of locally grown and distributed food in and around Melbourne. Thanks to the team at Crowdspot, they put together an online map, which you can access and contribute to on your smart phone, mapping community gardens, farmers markets and local farms.
    >> The map is still open and we’re still collecting data (which we’ll share), so please jump on and add your local community garden, farmers market or farm here.


Crowdfarming Meals

IMG_9708Lunch, morning tea and afternoon tea were lovingly prepared by the good people at Kinfolk Café from locally grown fruit, vegetables, bread and other produce, generously provided by quite a few of you. Coordinated by Hsuhan Chiang, a big thanks to all who contributed, particularly the good folk at CERES, Moreland Food Gardens Network, and Biodynamic Marketing at Footscray Wholesale Market (thanks Judy and Madeleine).

>> Watch the EcoCity Food Forum highlight video and check out the social media summary.

What’s Next

We’re putting together a report for City of Melbourne in the next two weeks with data collected and key insights from the EcoCity Food Forum. The information collected, including the Asset Map, will be free to be used and shared by anyone – and the more information we have, the more useful it will be.


If you are able to contribute to the Asset Map with connections, ideas, projects, places and resources to contribute to building a sustainable, resilient and fair food system, we would appreciate it if you could spend 10-20 minutes adding to the Asset Map spreadsheet

Other Fair Food News

VicHealth just launched the Seed Challenge, and are offering up to $100,000 for the brightest ideas that can answer: “How do we improve fruit and vegetable supply and access, as well as develop and promote a culture of healthy eating in Victoria?”. Applications close 24 May. Find out more and register here.

Fair Food Week is coming up in August. If you’d like to host an event, or keep up to date with plans for Fair Food Week head over to the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance website.


Thank you

Thanks again to all of you who came and participated in the EcoCity Food Forum. It’s exciting to find so many smart, resourceful and passionate people doing good work.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank our Event Partners – Hub Melbourne (Brian), Kinfolk Café (Jarrod and Bec), Collabforge (Matt) and Crowdspot (Anthony). We wouldn’t have been able to pull together both events in such a short time without their support and the hard work of our brilliant crew – Hsuhan, Tanya, Elisabeth, Reade, Madeleine,

food production within CoM

Rasha, Sally, Lee, Aiesha and Jacqueline. Thanks team!

Stay up-to-date

If you would like to receive Food City updates from City of Melbourne, please email with EcoCity Food Updates in the subject line and your name and any other relevant information in the body of the email.