The growth and success of ‘local food movements’ internationally is widely recognised as delivering healthy, source-identifiable food as well as building local economic prosperity. This story is about how the Central Coast region of New South Wales set out to establish its own local food movement.
In Australia, regional food security, artisanal foods, sustainable farming practice, food tourism and access to local produce are trending food topics on social media.
Engaging in these discussions in any meaningful way and capitalising on the benefits of a local food movement is difficult when people aren't connected. For example, the NSW Central Coast produces an abundance of high quality food; yet local restauranteurs, caterers and clubs looking for the ‘local food’ marketing edge, have difficulty sourcing authentic, local produce and food products.
These sentiments were supported by one of the most comprehensive studies about Australia’s food chain, FOODmap 2012. Significantly, this study identified as its highest priority, the potential of local food supply chains to contribute jobs growth and regional prosperity. In 2016, RMIT University was commissioned to conduct a scoping study of the potential of a local food movement for the region.
The study found that; 'One area in which regional innovation and growth can be identified has been the food and food services sectors, notably related to the growth of local and good food movements, the growing demand for high quality and artisan produced food and food services, demand for more environmentally sustainable food production, and the growing emphasis on food provenance'.
As leaders in their own field, they were aware that success would come from mutual reciprocity and bridging the gap between producers and consumers.
They also knew that establishing a successful food value chain required an agreed set of standards.
Together they identified and prioritised activities to maximise local opportunities and build a cohesive network.
As one of 9 key focus areas outlined on the Collective’s interim website, community resilience is front-of-mind. Local food security is a means of building resilience in a very real way. Our medium-term objective is to work with producers, industry and policy makers to ensure security of tenure for our farmlands, fishing zones, and food production precincts. Holding on to what we have and ensuring our food security and building resilience is important to us all.