From Little Things Big Things Do Grow

Article excerpt

LAST week I was in Melbourne attending VicHealthas Sowing the Seed information day at the Melbourne Convention Centre.

VicHealth a the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation - is a semi-autonomous State Government agency, funded through alcohol and tobacco taxes, that was established in 1987 with a mandate to promote good health for all Victorians. Over a number of years, VicHealth has funded significant research and food security projects that, cumulatively, have contributed to substantial increases in levels of awareness about these issues in Melbourne and regional Victoria.

In particular, VicHealth made a major strategic intervention with the launch in 2005 of a five-year, multi-million dollar project entitled Food for All. A primary objective of this project was to bring about policy change with regard to raising the prominence and priority of food security in council policy processes and documents. As I discovered last year while investigating urban and peri-urban agriculture in Melbourne, and its role in meeting climate change and food security challenges, the lasting impacts of the Food for All project can be seen in several Melbourne councils.

Sowing the Seed is a competitive grants program that VicHealth launched a few weeks ago. Up to $100,000 is available for the two best projects that address the challenge question a aHow do we improve fruit and vegetable supply and access, as well as develop and promote a culture of healthy eating in Victoria?a

Unlike Food For All, Sowing the Seed is aimed mainly at non-profit and community groups, as well as small businesses. Attendees heard from some leading Melbourne-based innovators already working in this field, such as Chris Ennis from CERES Environmental Park and Organic Farm in Brunswick, Andrew Twaits of the veggieswap.com.au website, Cassie Duncan of Sustainable Table, and Bruce Neal, co-developer of the FoodSwitch app at Sydney Universityas George Institute. …