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Food as a Public Good: Innovations in Food Systems Policy and Practice

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Event description

How can food as a public good support practices of ecological and social care in urban environments? Join us for a dynamic day at 'Food as a Public Good: Innovations in Food Policy and Practice.' We'll dive deep into how food can be a game-changer for ecological and social wellbeing in urban settings. Explore the innovative policies and practices already making a difference on the ground. This 1-day participatory forum will bring together a host of food system actors to envision the pathway to a more flourishing food future.

This event is part of Sustain's 3rd national Urban Agriculture Month, which aims to build momentum for the transition to sustainable and resilient food systems that enable flourishing human and ecological communities. 

Our exciting line-up of keynote speakers include: 

  • Uncle David Wandin, Wurundjeri Elder and Indigenous land management expert (Wandoon Estate Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Councillor Dr Olivia Ball (City of Melbourne)
  • Rabekha Siebert (Urban Agriculture Manager, City of Dallas, Texas)
  • Linda Appel Lipsius, CEO of Denver Urban Gardens (Denver, Colorado)

We are also pleased to showcase just a few of the local policy-makers and practitioners also presenting:

  • Dheepa Jeyapalan - VicHealth's 10-year VicHealth Strategy and whole-of-system approach to food system transformation
  • Savannah Supski & Patrick McMillin - Just Food Collective: a youth-led approach to food justice
  • Eve Fraser - Farm Raiser: urban farming on school campus
  • Dr Kelly Donati - Community food infrastructure for healthier, fairer and more regenerative food systems
  • Dr Helen-Addison Smith (RMIT University) - CafeLab: a living lab for rethinking food waste in the hospitality sector
  • Maria Plakourakis (City of Melbourne) - Queen Victoria Market voucher program

The second part of the day will take the form of a socratic circle discussions to explore different food system scenarios and key opportunities facing our food system. 

This event will appeal to local and state government staff, as well as practitioners in the community food, development, planning and landscape architecture sectors. 

We thank our major sponsors - Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation and VicHealth - for making this event possible and extend our gratitude to the City of Melbourne for its generous support.


Uncle David Wandin is a Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elder and Cultural Practices Manager (Fire and Water) at the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation. He is a recognised leader in the promotion and execution of cultural (cool) burns in Victoria. Uncle Dave is also the chairperson of the Wandoon Estate Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the Wurundjeri people, the Indigenous owners of the historical property “Coranderrk” in the Yarra Valley. Set up as an Aboriginal Reserve in 1863, Coranderrk closed in 1924. In 1999, the Indigenous Land Corporation purchased 80 hectares of the property and gave ownership to the Wandoon Estate. Coranderrk aims to operate as a farm and education space for native bush foods and to restore environmental health and productivity to the farm.

Councillor Dr Olivia Ball was elected Councillor in November 2020. Olivia has lived, worked and studied in the City of Melbourne for most of her life. With a Masters and PhD in human rights, and experience working in women’s, children’s, refugees’, workers’ and older people’s rights, she brings human rights expertise to the diverse activities of Council, from the affordability of housing to the accessibility of our city and democracy. A published author, she also has a science degree, giving her skills in assessing evidence and applying research. Most recently, she has been studying urban planning. Olivia is portfolio lead for Health, Wellbeing and Belonging and deputy portfolio lead for Aboriginal Melbourne.

Rabekah Siebert is City of Dallas’ Comprehensive Urban Agriculture Plan Manager, working collaboratively to build a resilient food system in the Dallas region. She is committed to regenerative agriculture models that serve the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profitable livelihood. Rabekah will share how the City of Dallas is leading the way in becoming more sustainable through urban agriculture.

Linda Appel Lipsius, CEO of Denver Urban Gardeners (DUG) in Colorado is working to amplify the role that community gardens and food forests can play in the infrastructure of thriving cities. Started in 1978, DUG is one of the country's largest independent community garden organizations with 192 gardens and 6 food forests in metro Denver.

Dheepa Jeyapalan is a dietitian and public health professional with a passion for addressing health inequities and working with communities in a way that centres self-determination. Having previously worked in the NGO sector, both domestically and abroad, and in academia, Dheepa has been involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of programs that address the structural barriers many face in accessing and enjoying nutritious food. Dheepa has worked across the food system throughout her career to centre the needs and voices of communities to ensure equitable practices are foundational to the health promotion and nutrition programs she has led. Her most recent roles have been at VicHealth, first as the Advisor to the CEO of VicHealth and currently as the Manager of the Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems team.

Savannah Supski has always been passionate about food and justice. She is a recent graduate of the Bachelor of Food Studies at William Angliss Institute and is co-founder of food justice not-for-profit, Just Food Collective. In 2022, Savannah was the lead researcher of Just Food’s project, Fed Up: Student Food Insecurity at William Angliss Institute, that has led to major funding from the City of Melbourne to coordinate food security responses for students in the city. Savannah’s passions lie in food policy, community and care, and activism. In her lifetime she hopes to see a society guided by principles of equality and love.

Patrick McMillin is a German-American chef who now calls Melbourne home. He obsesses over food for its gastronomic pleasures and power to do good. With over 10 years of hospitality experience, Patrick knows the many problems of our modern food system firsthand. As a graduate of the Bachelor of Food Studies, President of Just Food, avid researcher and writer, he is determined to make a tangible difference in this space. In 2022, Patrick was a researcher on Just Food’s project, Fed Up: Student Food Insecurity at William Angliss Institute, and is now coordinating their new project with Savannah. 

Dr Kelly Donati is a senior lecturer in food systems and gastronomy at William Angliss Institute. She is also the founding chairperson of Sustain: the Australian Food Network, a not-for-profit organisation focused on research, policy and programs for food systems that benefit people and the planet.

Professor Andrew Butt is a Professor of Urban Planning and Associate Dean of Sustainability and Urban Planning at RMIT University.  He has extensive research, teaching and practice experience in planning for peri-urban and urban fringe regions, in Australia and internationally.  He has undertaken various research and community projects on urban food systems and agricultural protection models for the urban fringe. 

Farm Raiser is a not-for-profit, charity urban farm located on Wurundjeri Country in Melbourne's north-east. Utilising the disused land of the Waratah Special Developmental School, Farmraiser grows fruit and veggies using organic and biodynamic practices. The students from Waratah SDS help to propagate veggies in our accessible nursery, as well as packing and delivering our food relief and Sovereignty veggie boxes around the neighbourhood. 

Farmraiser team in action: Credit: Hilary Walker

Eve Fraser joined the Farmraiser team in 2021 while studying a Masters of Horticulture at Melbourne Uni's Burnley Campus. She manages the wholesale, volunteer program and finances of the farm, as well as sharing the day to day duties of harvesting, planting and planning alongside the other farmers, Charlotte, Patrick and Kirsty.


Farmraiser 2
Farmraiser Team & Family: Credit: Hilary Walker

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