Community Food Hub in Central Victoria

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We are developing a community food hub in Trentham, Victoria, and held a Food Forum on July 11th to gain an understanding of the core needs and priorities from a broad cross-section of the community.

Over the course of 3 short brainstorming workshops a very wide range of food issues were thrashed out by large scale primary producers, artisan producers, chefs, retail operators, council officers, gardeners and conscientious consumers. The following key needs emerged from a number of groups during the evening:

  • Financial Support for producers diversifying or entering the industry
  • Encouraging more people to take on farming, especially young people
  • Greater land access and affordability
  • Mentoring, training and passing on specialised local knowledge
  • Strong shared local brand and assertive marketing of our produce
  • Local value-adding and vertical integration
  • A current database of local producers and better consumer access to produce
  • Advocacy for improved perception of the value of farming

The number of people that attended on a very chilly Thursday night, and the depth of discussion on such a wide range of issues was very inspiring. We will be hosting some events over the next 6 months to galvanise a network of local producers around opportunities for collaborative marketing and extension, and we are kicking things off with Trentham Growers, Cookers & Eaters, a huge locally-sourced community dinner and dance during Fair Food Week. Aside from a whole lot of fun, the outcomes of the dinner will be awareness raising and fund raising, enabling anyone to get involved and generating some dollars to really get things happening.

From a broader perspective, this is an exercise in testing the potential of small-scale local food hubs as catalysts for regional community development and capacity building. Through functions of incubation, aggregation and education, we hope to challenge land use trends in the area that have seen the decline of agriculture as a viable industry in the past few decades.