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Edible Adelaide

Creating a vibrant community with equitable access to quality fresh food, viable business models and protect and regenerate our landscapes.

Photo of Linda Crutchett
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

SA Urban Food Network

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Other

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Department of Environment and Water - Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board (State government) Warpuli Kumangka group (Kaurna, Traditional owner nation of Greater Adelaide) Metropolitan local governments across Adelaide (6 invested, 11 more interested) Sustain: Australian Food Network (National network with charity status) University of South Australia (Education) Central Queensland University – Adelaide Campus (Education) The Food Embassy Inc (Social enterprise) DARED: Dream Awake, Research Education and Design (Education consultancy) Young Farmers Connect (National network) Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network (National network)

Website of Legally Registered Entity (

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Greater Adelaide Area

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

The Edible Adelaide (1) vision, created in 2016 through a community led, consultative process. People who live, work and play in Adelaide and surrounding area came together to learn from one another and create a vision to work towards. The SA Urban Food Network (2) grew from these local, committed people, seeking to create a new, alternative food system alongside the current system in Adelaide. 

The SA Urban Food Network is active in the Greater Adelaide area bringing together a range of partners and stakeholders through networking and information sharing events. Local communities are learning and building skills through Living Smart’s community sustainability courses and Environment Resource Centre’s – virtual communities through social media and local food communities are getting active.  

- Adelaide is hosting an inaugural Food Fringe Festival in 2020. A Festival by the people for the people, supporting community and local food for all.

-The City of Salisbury (local government) a proposed Urban Food Park. A farming incubator project in the city with access to water through a local storm water catchment

- University of SA  established local Urban Ag Lab to explore efficient future models of urban agriculture.

- Local government councils are coming together to research  best ways for them to contribute to quality food access for all and advocating for further investment in food systems approaches. Networks of practitioners and policy makers are emerging.

-The Food Embassy is working to  connect communities through delicious, sustainable food via community led programs.

-Permaculture Association SA delivering a series of water smart & design courses for community resilience building.

- Future Farmers - Local farmers joining together to share knowledge & financial insights

- Climate readiness plans developed across Greater Adelaide local governments with support from state government.

- Adelaide is home to the national Food Waste Collaborative Research Centre.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Adelaide, South Australia is Australia’s fifth largest city. It has a reputation as relaxed, more like a big town than a city. 

In 2019 it ranked as the world’s 10th most livable city (3). Adelaide is a beach goer’s paradise and  Kangaroo Island and internationally recognised winemaking areas eg the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale are close by. Agricultural sectors surrounding the city are: viticulture; perennial and annual horticulture; annual cropping; extensive livestock; and dairy.

The Adelaide Central Market is one of the largest undercover fresh produce markets in the Southern Hemisphere, celebrating 150 years of  continuous operation in 2019. It offers a range of fresh food including fruit and vegetables, meats, seafood, cheeses, bakery, smallgoods. With more than 9.5 million visitations every year it remains the food mecca for multicultural cuisine and fresh produce and a popular tourist attraction. Across the suburbs a range of Farmers Markets each week provide produce from Adelaide Hills, Plains, and the Fleureiu Peninsula. There is a weekly seafood market from the boats docked at the water's edge.

Current population density is less than 1,400 people /km2 however the 30 Year Plan for The Greater Adelaide Region (4) seeks to halt urban sprawl with higher-density housing in existing suburbia. .

Many South Australians enjoy a high living standard, safe neighborhoods, stable employment, secure housing, are well educated. These social determinants contribute to improved health and wellbeing, however on every measure of social determinants, Aboriginal people have lower levels of health (5). 

About half of the population has at least one chronic condition. These contribute to 61% of the total burden of disease.   Diet-related chronic conditions are among the leading causes of death and disability. The burden of disease could be lowered by more than 30% if modifiable risk factors were reduced, for example:

- less than 10% of adults eat enough vegetables, 

- only 45% of adults reported engaging in the recommended amount of physical activity each week

 - 61% of adults are overweight or obese (5).

Around 12% of South Australians live below the poverty line and it is estimated that the overall prevalence of food insecurity is 4.2%6.  Charitable Food relief organisations are noticing increase demand for services.  SA Health are challenged not only to improve the charitable food program available, but to support people to move out of poverty, reducing the need for such programs (6).

The impacts of climate change on our food, our landscape and our future is being felt. City dwellers are exhorted to buy local and support fire-affected communities.  Severed rural and urban connections are visibly being re-forged in the face of calamity. Out of this devastation will come a rebirth.  It will be a challenge, and many will struggle or take new paths.  Others may be able to take advantage of primary industries, natural resource management and industry research on alternative crops and mitigation strategies needed for climate warming and more extreme weather.  

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Edible Adelaide workshops identified a sustainable urban food system to:

- secure healthy food, water and local economy in the future

- care and value our land, water and biodiversity

- build equity & community benefits for the health all

- adapt to a changing climate

- reduce waste.

The agricultural sector contributes over $15.4 billion each year to our economy (8). Agricultural industries are reliant on active, resilient communities and healthy functioning ecosystems (10).

Warmer summers mean the varieties and types of crops grown in SA will need to change. More frequent and severe heat events are likely to cause crop damage. Demands on water and shade are likely to increase (9).  Farmers are already facing climate challenges and this year’s fires have exacerbated this.

Adelaide’s food growing regions are under pressure from population growth and urban expansion (4). The Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (PDI Act), legislated Environment and Food Production Areas (EFPAs) to protect our food bowl, on the fringes of the city (11).  After a prolonged lead in time PDI Act came into practice in March 2019, work is needed for it to provide effective protections in practice..

Farm equity is often the default retirement plan for existing farmers and high land values, make it difficult to begin a new farming enterprise (11).

Farming is braced for the change needed to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and to restore biodiversity and natural resources (10). Our challenge is to support farmers to access land and use a range of regenerative methods of food production and determine the best the right size to be financially viable, maintain soils and animals grown in healthy systems. 

In Adelaide supermarkets we can buy any food at any time of the year, but farm gate prices are low, our farmers are struggling to make a living (13).   Decades of policy to produce ever cheaper food has created detrimental outcomes. The true cost is borne elsewhere in society– in a degraded environment, spiralling ill-health and limited retail options. 

Ultra-high processed foods are sold at the expense of population health. Australian adults get 1/3 of energy intake from these discretionary foods and children are eating 3-8 serves of discretionary foods daily.  Less than 1 in 10 adults met recommendation for daily vegetable intake and 1 in 5 met fruit intake in 2017-18(14). 

South Australia’s households waste around $517 (15). This wastes money and the resources that went into producing it as well as contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, through methane released when this is sent to land fill.  We need to find ways to value our food more and reduce waste, have viable markets for all food produced and use all we have in our homes.

Diverting unsaleable product, to the charitable food sector is one way supermarkets reduce their food waste, however there are real concerns about the amount of unhealthy food and drink donations passing on , contributing to the inequitable burden of disease of the most vulnerable people (6).

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Edible Adelaide's vision is to strengthen knowledge transfer from research to growers and industry, for communities to embrace new food crops, new ways of sourcing and sharing food and, for entrepreneurs to develop business’ that employ models of circular economy.

Adelaide’s productive food bowl contributes to local fresh food and export markets.Our food growing regions are under pressure from population growth and urban expansion. Our new Environment and Food Production Areas (EFPA) legislation is untested and needs support.

Young farmers seeking to access / purchase land need our support. Our vision seeks ways to link land holders and young farmers, explore avenues to free up land for food production.  We will support research, training and new technologies that allow greater productivity and efficient water use in our urban landscapes.  

Food systems inexorably link our health, climate change, the economy and the environment. Wise food production, health eating and equitable access are all areas in which we can act.  Our vision incorporates food systems thinking with those already focusing in each sector.

We will strengthen equitable food access with government agencies who have engaged with the charitable food sector to reduce food insecurity and improve health.  Ideas of food democracy are embedded in their discussions.  We will bring additional stakeholders and broaden outcomes so as to develop new food access pathways such as The Grow Free movement and Ripe Near Me which both began in Adelaide.  

In 2019, The World Health Organisation named SA Health as a Collaborating Centre for Advancing Health in All Policies Implementation.  Edible Adelaide provides a vision making explicit possible cross-sectoral collaborations to deliver improved healthy food produced and eaten locally.

Peri- urban, urban growers and farmers already skilled in regenerative food production methods or seeking to create circular economies within SA are ideally placed to act as mentors for new enterprises.  Salisbury Council have land adjacent to Uni SA and both are seeking to establish a farm incubator project and possible Food Hub.  UniSA professors have volunteered time to help map issues of viability and scale. Others focus on backyard growing, considering water and time efficiency, sharing their knowledge across community settings. 

Green Industries SA developed a business case for valuing food waste15. Further work is needed to improve investment and uptake at both a business and household level. 

The SA Great campaign promoting local produce is well established.  Options to use this within a new food system paradigm may exist.   A range of food outlets (farmers markets, home delivery, cooperatives and a retail outlet for small backyard growers) need support to scale up and be accessible across Adelaide.  The independent grocer, Foodland has 9.3% market share in SA. Shoppers notice them respond to community demand and local producers are accessing shelf space.  

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

In an Edible Adelaide you would see:

Accessible, affordable, organic, and healthy food for all

An economic system that makes it easy and affordable to purchase local produce. 

A strong, localised, sharing economy with innovative delivery models including neighbourhood based market- places for buying, swapping and exchanging. It would build more urban farms, seeking a balance between large, urban fringe producers and small, local producers.

Resilient and educated communities

Active, connected, ecologically conscious communities of all ages, abilities and cultures. 

Schools, adult education and local groups would be hubs of sustainable food system education. With greater understanding of the food system and its impacts, over time, we would see people reconnecting with land, reducing consumption and building biodiversity.

Localised interlinked, food growing systems

More private and public land used for food production.

More food growing in front and back yards, community gardens, streetscapes, verges, rooftops, walls, public parks, and green corridors.

Integrated systems approaches to planning 

A cross sectoral, integrated city-wide plan to best utilise land, built environments and water for a sustainable food system.

Urban agriculture embedded across all policies and affecting change/reform in planning and legal systems. This process would be community led with government as enablers.

This reform would create coherent strategies that have social, environmental and economic impacts. There would be a clear timetable of funding, incentives and actions to ensure a holistic approach for an equitable, accessible system.

Trained & supported producers, processors, distributors and retailers

Resilient, supported and ecologically conscious food system businesses.

A central learning facility (eg Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies Melbourne). We would see more sustainable food businesses, supported by government incentives for being local.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Greater Adelaide has a rich edible history that has sustained thousands of generations over at least 50,000 years. Today it remains home to the ongoing cultural practices of the Kaurna, Ngarrindjeri, Peramangk and Ngadjuri nations, as well as farms,                   multicultural market gardens, community and school gardens, backyard and front yard and verge plantings.

In 2016, connected to a national tour of international speakers initiated by Sustain and aimed to provide:

• best practice information from an international food system expert

• inspiration for new and creative ways to transform urban landscapes into productive areas.

A workshop component, held during the first event, also provided an opportunity for people to share their ideas about:

• why Adelaide might benefit from a sustainable urban food system

• what a sustainable urban food system could look like in Adelaide

• what initiatives are already happening

• ways Adelaide could potentially develop itself to be more ‘edible’.

We were not starting from a blank slate and participants mapped out current food system related initiatives that they were aware of. The exercise revealed the wealth of activity already occurring in greater Adelaide and illustrated a strong network of skilled practitioners from which we can learn and build a strong future.

Participants highlighted growers on all scales, from the backyard to community gardens, and from small urban and peri-urban farms to large farms. The activity also provided links to current food networks and resources, businesses,cooperatives, farmers’ markets, community swaps and tourism ventures. It showed the underpinning of education and research organisations and current government support. Other ventures that support urban agriculture like water and waste collection and re-use, as well as biodiversity projects, were also captured.The complete account of initiatives shared can be found in the full report. 

Participants outlined the need for a backbone of plans, policies, legislation and funding for urban agriculture, as well as strong community education, and innovative, cological business models. There is much work to be done to build a more robust, integrated and sustainable food system that is continually monitored against collective goals.


The planning stage includes analysing the current food system and building on the existing strengths to create wider collaboration and map the sustainable food system for Adelaide. We will work with research organisations, Sustain: Australian Food Network, our state and local government

- Define appropriate metrics and indicators of sustainable food targets across economic, social and ecological outcomes.

- Articulate these to be relevant across our institutional increase collaboration and commitment to working together.  For example Connect food production sectors with waste sector, coordinate food and agriculture policy across sectors.

Collect baseline data and set achievable goals; Analyse the opportunities and barriers in the existing regulatory system;Recognise local conditions and prioritise projects based on the available resources and needs. Strengthen the capacity of existing networks of small-scale urban and peri-urban farms. And build skills needed to collaborate well.

Ask universities, research, urban planning and industries what resources they need in order to respond to the shared vision and research  the employment potential of local processing

Strengthen networks across regional and urban Adelaide by working with current industry leaders, active community members and sympathisers within all levels of work and government. Develop networks to link growers, processors, distributors, marketer and consumers.

Acknowledge and allow for more than one methodology or approach in a complex food system.


Building includes developing / creating links between our backbone of plans, policies, legislation and funding creating a supportive legislation and regulation framework to enable a sustainable food system to develop and thrive.

Work with urban planners for a systematic and holistic approach to development that supports and regulates priorities of green, edible, water sensitive, biodiverse elements for liveability.

Embed equitable access to healthful,  sustainable food including drinkable water in all policies (similar to the Health in All Policies health reform) across local, state and federal levels of government.

Make it easy for people to access land, grow food and purchase local food and create policies that enable small scale farmers and prioritise local manufacturing and distribution of food.

Create an enabling legal framework, where for example:

• agriculture is recognised as a formal urban land use

• there are mandated green ‘food’ spaces

• supermarkets and food businesses are legally required to have compost systems

• goods are taxed on their distance travelled

• there are subsidies for local, organic food production

• costs are scaled for micro producers

• urban density, not expansion, is regulated.

Establish the economic benefits of local urban agriculture and outline how local and state government can support and provide incentives for businesses to use local food.


Education Develop and promote sustainable food system education resources and opportunities for all ages and abilities. supporting communities to understand, value and participate in a sustainable food system.

Encourage both formal and informal sharing of skills and knowledge, especially the diversity of local Aboriginal knowledge. Educate growers in  holistic growing systems,  organic pest and disease management water use and climate adaptation. Educate consumers in: critical thinking and philosophies that underpin our food cultures;‘Paddock to plate’ philosophies the importance of sustainably managed agricultural land across our landscape, including urban spaces;  A nothing is wasted, and everything is celebrated’ approach and nutritional value of sustainable eating.

Create a network of sustainability food system educators from universities, TAFEs, and schools. Use schools as hubs for gardens and produce swaps.

Frame urban agriculture as place making and acknowledge employment potential. Share case studies of small examples (parklands, rooftops, backyards).Develop pride in local sustainable food by marketing local food and its benefits. Develop resources and ways to overcome barriers to sustainable living.

Use all possible avenues to ask the community what they think. Include a  central website to connect current projects and provide public feedback on the progress of goals.


Build a new system of agriculture that follows natural processes and nutrient cycles rather than the industrialised system with growth as its end point.  Stronger and more diverse business models are encouraged, while the collection and re-use of water and wastes are enhanced.

Transition established farms for greater ecological outcomes for example prioritise organic and regenerative production methodology and water smart crops.

Foster agricultural innovation and diversification in the region (for example connect waste streams to producers who can use them as inputs). Encourage entrepreneurs through competitions and challenges for example 

Encourage community-based processing (for example a community butcher, abattoir and animal transport cooperatives),build more local cooperatives, where multiple growers can come together for mutual benefits. 

Pilot the establishment of community centres as distribution hubs (look at the Food Connect model in Brisbane).Get food to the people through micro businesses, and stalls at transport hubs. Trial selling produce in new ways (for example at public transport stops).

Promote local, energy saving transport delivery systems (for example solar powered vehicles and bikes like EcoCaddy).

Establish the economic benefits of urban agriculture for businesses.  Strengthen eco and agro tourism businesses in the region. Link with existing marketing campaigns (like I Choose SA) with supermarkets and food businesses to promote local produce and producers.

Develop native food businesses in the region.

Strengthen local governments’ waste system management for ecological outcomes. Improve and increase green waste recycling (for example increase frequency of green bin collection and decrease landfill bin collection) with businesses and local residents.

Trial localised composting (suburb level) with a shared compost system such as large scale worm farm.

Reduce processing waste, including energy, water use and plastic packaging -

 Work with existing charitable food distributors (OzHarvest, Food Bank SA and other distributors) to identify socially acceptable ways of accessing quality food that promote pathways out of poverty and dependence.


The experiences and lessons learnt from cities around the world are invaluable for showcasing what can be achieved in Adelaide. The workshop findings give us an understanding of the complexity, diversity and potential that exist in Adelaide

Edible Adelaide is visible, and achievable.  New groups see the picture and immediately see that their work fits in, but this takes time and government and large organisations move slowly.  Independent leadership can help.  Our city is small enough to be able to bring all the players together.  Big business is based interstate.  Adelaide is the ideal place to trial new ideas and create a new Food Vision for the future.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Aura Stewart

How do you anticipate encouraging consumer behavior? That would seem to be tied to education and specific information regarding the source and content of food. Do you have thoughts on what those networks connecting those groups might look like?

Photo of Linda Crutchett

Hi Aura, Thank you for your question, it has me thinking about a range of opportunities.
The SA Urban food network membership has links across networks including local markets and producers, educators and community groups. We aim to increase these connections, and support further expansion when viable. Some opportunities for purchasing, sharing and growing local food have begun, but are likely to need support in coming years as they become embedded.
Network members have developed resources and training packages and are seeking opportunities to share these more widely.
Local council areas are in the early stages of identifying how they can best support community food access and we are working with some and helping develop a research proposal learning from others in Australia and overseas.
The current state govt provides strong support for existing and developing food industry and strengthening the SA brand, for local as well as export markets. We would like to explore more opportunities with them.
Nationally we have specific country of origin labelling laws that producers comply with.
I am also interested in exploring additional dynamics beyond the consumer ideas and working with ideas of food democracy and food citizenship.
I hope this answers your question, and again thank you for taking me on this journey!

Photo of Aura Stewart

Linda, glad to see that my question inspired a new path for your thinking. ;) I find your project very exciting. By reading over several contributions and my own one, one of the issues I find is that processed food is here to stay because price, flavor, and accessibility. That is a fact that cannot be ignored. I have an additional question for you that you do not need to answer. It is mostly to trigger additional thoughts. Would it be possible through your project to add value to the produced raw foods in a way that resemble the attributes of processed foods and that also produce nutritional dense foods? If you could achieve something like that, I think you could transform in a meaningful way not only your country's but also the global food system. This is an innovation challenge that probably is beyond the scope of your initial project. In any case, your project is fascinating. Congratulations for that. I wish you great success in your endeavor!

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