RegenVic - Prototyping a Good Food Ecosystem for the Global Transition to a resilient and sustainable future in a Climate Changed World
A disruptive Good Food Ecosystem chosen by the global community to prototype solutions for a fast transition to a Net Zero Carbon economy
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Four Nonnas Fresh Pasta Pty Ltd trading as CauseGoodThings.com
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small company (under 50 employees)
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
At this stage we have not initiated collaborations. We will be launching in Mid February at the National Climate Emergency Summit in Melbourne. At this stage we have built a small team to shape and steer the project over its starting months.
Shane Ward and Paul Bellchambers are the first to join the team. Both are very well qualified and experienced with Victoria's Food Systems
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
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?
Central Victoria comprising 93000 km2 and 61 local governments (31 in metropolitan Melbourne and 30 rural) .
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
As the originator/founder of the vision, I've lived and worked my life in Melbourne, Victoria and spent much of it enjoying the many facets of its rich and complex food system.
My career to date has been spent here from being a graduate Chemical Engineer in the Fermentation industry making food and functional food ingredients (including Infant Formula ingredients for export to Asia) , to running start up Non Profit Social Enterprises tackling Food Waste to consulting work in the dairy industry and now running an Artisan Fresh Pasta business.
I have a strong love of the multicultural Foodie culture here in Melbourne and its importance to the fabric of society. We are often referred to as the Foodie Capital of the world.
My other strong ties to Melbourne are that I have three daughters who also love the vibrancy and opportunities of Melbourne. I’ve travelled extensively and am very appreciative of how cosmopolitan, relaxed and innovative Melbourne is. Our love of sports and recreation and social activities is renowned. What other place other than Victoria has a public holiday for a horse race -The Melbourne Cup and for the eve of a football grand final. There is one theme though more unifying than sport and that is food.
Victorians, like the rest of humanity, love to ‘break bread’ and share social times with family, friends and complete strangers over good food and drink. Whenever I get out of Urban Melbourne, we are blessed with wide open spaces and varying topography and climate. The more relaxed pace and authentic Aussie good nature and mateship of the ‘bush’ (regional Victoria) are something else I’m proud of and enjoy as a way of replenishing from the demands of a busy urban life. It’s not hard to see why other travellers from outside Victoria have it high on their list of places they’d like to live.
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.
Victoria is a southern state of Australia with an area of 227,000 km2. We’ve chosen our key ‘Good Food Ecosystem’ corridor of Melbourne and Central Victoria. It comprises 93,000 km2 and in 2018 had a population of 6.1 million.
There are five main regional cities – Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton and Wodonga and numerous small country towns across the 29 Rural local government regions. Many farmers are doing it tough and being forced to leave the land or continue with subsistence farming.
As a southern state we have a cooler and very defined climate of seasons with hot dry summers and cold wet winters (but no snow to speak of).
Greater Melbourne often wins the awards as one of the world’s most liveable cities. It’s an affluent cosmopolitan city that had its first European settlement in 1803. It had a very wealthy period in the 1880s with the discovery of gold and has thrived thanks to the influx of migrants. Originally predominately a British population, In the 1950s many Italians and Greeks settled (and Melbourne is still the third highest population of Greeks outside of Greece), then the Vietnamese in the 70s, and more recently Chinese and Indians. Victoria also has communities from practically all countries of the world, and with then their food heritage has infused our society.
Almost all cuisines are available both as restaurant meals and ingredients and ‘good food experiences’ form a big part of our way of life. We have very popular food events including night markets, networks of farmers markets, food trucks and Victorians love to dine out. As one of the pilot cities for UberEats we also have many people choosing the dine in now and enjoy different Foodie experiences. With a very wide range high quality fresh and other ingredients and so many nationalities from Afghani to Zimbabwean, there’s high quality taste experiences available at all budgets.
The Greater Melbourne metropolitan region has been well planned to meet our near term population growth with an Urban Growth Boundary and a series of 12 designated green wedge areas across 17 municipalities which form a ring around the city to protect environment, farm land, biodiversity, water catchment and in so doing the food bowl to support the city
The fact we have strong communities of diaspora from all corners of the world, not only gives us a strong ‘vibe’ as a diverse and multicultural society but it also bridges us through our immigrants to communities around the globe.
But it’s not all good news. We have the typical challenges that accompany a western society lead by neoliberal politics. For many Victorians our diets are poor and obesity and health issues are rife. While Australia has the highest median wealth (largely due to spiralling land and housing prices) we have a social divide with the third highest level of homelessness in the OECD. Poverty and Food Insecurity are major issues.
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.
In 2020, Central Victoria boasts a sophisticated and robust Food System that produces more than enough food locally to both feed its own population and have a strong growing export market.
We have a very multicultural society and from that a rich and diverse food system and food cultures have developed. The real engine of this food system is the migrant families who often over generations have built the foundations by farming the soils, selling produce at the markets and adding value through processing and running the vast network of cafes and restaurants.
In parallel to that system has been running the corporatisation of the Food system with Big Ag farming that pushes monoculture crops and feedlot livestocks powered by Big Pharma fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, antibiotics and intensive tilling to drive short term yield maximization and maximum short term shareholder returns. These foods then supply the Big Factory processors and Big Business supermarket retailers. Mergers and acquisitions focused on shareholder returns seem to leave suppliers and consumers as the losers who need to work harder for less to stay in business.
The Big Ag system is overlaid by neoliberal politics that doesn’t seem to be delivering on its ‘trickledown’ benefits with a growing social divide that’s resulting in rising rates of food insecurity, eating more less nutritious foods resulting in higher obesity, diabetes and other health issues.
Thankfully the vast majority of the population are still enjoying the abundance of good food experiences that rank us as a top Foodie state.
As we move towards 2050 on a trajectory of consumerism and short-termism, we face the impending effects of the Climate Crisis such as drought, flood, bushfires and soil and ecosystem degradation, we can expect this abundance may no longer be the case.
In 2020 we are already seeing elsewhere in Australia crippling droughts with depleted water systems, floods and of course the recent devastating bushfires.
So the real challenge that lies ahead is how do we transform our economy and change our landcare practices to regenerate the soils, so they are resilient enough to cope with Climate Change events. Of course these same challenges are faced elsewhere on the planet.
In a global world based on market forces, agriculture failures in other regions will push up demand and prices for Victorian produce, sending produce offshore and exacerbating local food security risks. Given Victoria’s economy and social structure is so food dependent the risk of a financial collapse becomes more real.
So one scenario is we move towards scarcity.
Instead we need to steer towards abundance, from our current course can reduce the impact of the risks that drought, flood, storm, bushfire, pollination and water supply crises might bring.
A detailed vision of the challenges for all stakeholders is attached as Part 2 of the three supporting documents.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
The RegenVic vision is to totally transform the Central Victorian economy around a regenerative food system that remediates soils, rebuilds community and fosters wellbeing.
We do this by getting the global community behind the project with both intellectual, financial and physical support to prototype an economy that transitions from the fossil fuel era to a resilient and sustainable economy that's in harmony with nature.
The detail is outlined later but the whole system is purposefully designed specifically to address all of the present and future challenges.
It’s designed to deliver highly efficient local circular economies powered by clean energy that are not just sustainable but regenerative, meaning that they remediate the damage that we have done to our local natural resources over the past hundred years.
Remediating soils sequesters carbon (helps reverse global warming) and makes the ecology and food systems more resilient to extreme weather events such as drought, flood, storms bushfires and water crises.
Regeneration also entails building supportive and inclusive local economies that are self sufficient and consequently more resilient. These local economies are then networked using technological advances to create a Victorian society and economy with highly efficient supply chains. One of the cornerstone developments is a new open-sourced supply chain and asset sharing platform that reduces inefficiencies including Food waste.
The 'Transition' is from a hierarchical structure where there is power held by government, lobbyists and Big Business processes to a more distributed Ecosystem network of collaboration, transparency and sustainability.
As a result each stakeholder group is better off in the transitioned economy with the exception of the Big Businesses that don’t adapt from complexity and manipulation to a more networked and transparent system based on simplicity and authenticity.
The detailed stakeholder analysis is incorporated in the Part 2 attachment.
One of the main drivers for the Prototype was to get as quickly as possible to a Net Zero Carbon economy and prove that the transition is actually good for the economy and jobs and is self funding.
By prototyping the vision and proving it worked in reality, the challenges for all Central Victorian stakeholders were automatically addressed. Then by scaling the learnings globally, the real impact happened. The bonus was, we now have a rich, nutritious, multicultural and very efficient food system that puts smiles on so many faces.
Tackling Climate Change head on helped avoid the severity of the outcomes. It also helped the stakeholders of RegenVic experience how a change of mindset can change paradigms and in turn create unexpectedly good solutions that benefit all....a change of mindset from competition and individualism to collaboration and community.
This built capacity for agility and resilience to tackle the unexpected challenges that will no doubt be thrown at us.
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 2050 the world has emerged to the other side of the Transition.
Society has fundamentally changed in a bigger way than any revolutions or world wars in history. This time the forces of nature as well as man wreaked havoc.
It became known as ‘World War Me’, where we humans as a species realised the enemy was ourselves and individualism, consumerism and the complex economies we had created when trying to burn as quickly as possible our fossil fuel inheritance.
Central Victoria was fared better than most regions. This was partly because of our southern latitude, but it was also largely remediated and our resilience, prevention and infrastructure systems had all become robust.
So now we enjoy a regenerated country that's covered by small scale farms that have flourished through implementing various regenerative agriculture processes.
These farms are connected with friendly ecovillages and smart cities by fast mass transit and freight systems that seamlessly move people and products to where needed. Now nutritious and flavourful foods are much more accessible to enrich the lives of all of us whether we live rural, urban or semi urban lives.
After the Transition, we came to better understand the importance of diversity, simplicity and nature in the quest for happiness and sustainability.
We also realised you don’t have to grow to thrive, you can just evolve
Technology has played a huge role in shortening supply chains so that farmers and processors thrive, and consumers get amazing value and joy from food they enjoy in the company of family, friends and the diverse communities around them.
The enthusiastic adoption of RegenVic paid off!
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Central Victoria was selected by the global community as the best region to prototype the transformation of an economy to a resilient and sustainable future
RegenVic was the name given to this ambitious program to totally restructure an economy to become Net Zero Carbon asap. The core focus was ensuring we built a resilient and self-sustaining society should the worst case scenarios of the Climate Crisis play out.
Central Victoria became a region of thousands of small scale communities that were connected together into one large grid network.
This network of farms, ecovillages and greenfield smart cities thrives and has regenerated the natural environments we had almost destroyed through extractive capitalism.
It regenerated soils and ecological ecosystems and it’s regenerated humanity.
We now enjoy physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing that had eluded us for decades.
Much of our economy and our recreational activities are centred around delicious and nutritious food we share with others.
RegenVic was born from a combination of dreaming, visioning and collaborating at a scale never seen before. The objective was to design a Food System that would create a robust, resilient, thriving and nutritious food system.
So let’s look back and see how it all came to pass and how we transformed from a paradigm of exponential growth to a system that mimics Mother Nature and her Ecosystems….a time we realised that hierarchies built on the ‘Love of Power’ could never deliver the sustainability and joy of communities built on the ‘Power of Love’.
In 2020 the ‘wake up’ was well underway. The Climate Activists had created awareness. However, despite declaring Climate Emergencies people just weren’t taking enough meaningful action.
Traction started to happen when the ‘Activists’ became ‘Actionists’ and started doing their bit personally. But the real movement was when they got together and formed collaborative communities of ‘Solutionists’ to tackle the systemic change needed.
In 2020 there were three key developments.
- A Climate Solutions Alliance was formed which identified hundreds of ‘solutions’ to reverse global warming such as Regenerative Agriculture and reducing food waste. A ‘community of purpose’ was created for each solution topic. These grew into self-organizing People’s Assemblies and Actions Summits where a range of collaboration processes were used to design systemic change
- Project 2020Visions encouraged people to create a Vision of a future for the year 2050 for their local community or industry. The idea being if you can see a vision with 20/20 clarity you can better design a roadmap that might lead there. The Rockefeller Foundation ran a Food System Vision Prize which seeded many promising designs including the RegenVic project.
- The TED (the Ideas Network) and its partners, ran a Climate Solutions Summit in October 2020, that focused on Power, Transport, Built Environment, Food and Regreening. The collaboration process identified the best solutions to prototype prior to scaling up, with financial and intellectual support. RegenVic was one of the projects that got this support
Some of the specific ideas and projects shared were revolutionary. However it was the collaboration and innovation processes and platforms to tackle wicked problems using the wisdom of the crowd that had the most impact. The development of these ecosystems methodologies powered what we now refer to as the Ecosystems Revolution.
So what did project RegenVic look like as a rough lump of clay presented to the Rockefeller Foundation before being shaped by The Climate Solutions Alliance and TED Summit?
It was a comprehensive and clear vision with a supporting implementation roadmap to fast track decarbonising power, electrifying transport and the rest of industry, building resilient nutritious food systems and regreening the planet while remediating our soils, air and oceans.
It didn’t take long to expose the lies spun by politicians that moving away from fossil fuels would wreck the economy and result in massive job losses. This was the start of the collapse of Neoliberalism and Fake News. Soon after, Deep Democracy replaced a broken political system.
As the reality struck that people’s pension/superannuation funds were at risk if they remained in companies exposed to stranded assets and litigation, the funding moved to the New Economy companies that were the standout projects at the TED Climate Summits.
It was this flood of capital that funded the rollout of RegenVic in stages, the first being to establish a prototype EcoHub.
The AgFuturesFund was set up to enable buyouts of broadacre farming in Central Victoria from farmers at a generous premium. With expert consultancy and the support of local government, the first Ecohub was built as a greenfield community.
On what had been a dairy farm, the subdivision created:
- Community services facilities (eg wellbeing, education, recreational)
- A Food processing Industrial co-working precinct
- 20 Ecovillages each supporting a cluster of 50 small acre regenerative agriculture farms
- As demand for ecotourism and affordable housing grew, offgrid Tiny homes were installed on the farms (Farm owners usually chose to live in the Ecovillage).
Use of satellite mapping, drones, soil monitoring devices and AI systems determined the optimum species mixes of crops and livestock to be incorporated into each farm. Agroforestry, silvopasturing and natural sequence farming were some of the most popular regenerative agriculture techniques to be used to produce nutritious, in-demand food for local consumption and export to the wider Victorian Food grid.
Each Ecohub development operates as both a Net Negative Carbon and Net Zero Waste community. Renewable energy (solar and wind) connected to individual home and vehicle battery storage connected to the community battery storage meant that reliable power was not an issue. Creating a Circular Economy with zero waste became a case study that was optimised before the next wave of Ecohubs were launched and more farmland subdivided with funding from the AgFuturesFund.
The other part of this prototype that gained interest from the world as they watched Central Victoria create a new future in front of their eyes, was how the rewilding and biodiversity corridors were created.
What had been paddocks of just grass a few years prior started to take shape as a network of interweaved habitat zones for native flora and fauna. This part of the project was a joint venture with the Rotarians for Bees project to ensure sustainability for Victoria’s Honey bees, Wild bees and Native Bees.
Victoria once had a strong Automotive manufacturing industry, prior to Ford, Holden and Toyota shutting operations. The RegenVic project resulted in funding for a startup Electric Vehicles manufacturing consortium called EVZebra.
EVZebra was established as a joint venture with Tesla to produce a broad range of Electric Vehicles for the Australian market. Bikes, Cars, Vans, Trucks and the new Mass Transit vehicles that vaguely resembled a small tram were the main formats that were designed and produced in Melbourne in the same automotive factories that had laid idle for decades.
Recruiting enthusiastic employees including ex Ford, Holden and Toyota staff was simple. These agile teams of diversely skilled employees armed with the new collaboration and innovation toolsets, resulted in very quick to market and affordable vehicles. All of these vehicles were fitted with autonomous driving systems so they could be deployed without drivers.
The vast majority of these vehicles ended up on the world's first PUBLIC transport network. Many of the mass transit and other vehicles used on the network were owned by the general public who could earn income as their autonomous vehicles ferried people and goods.
This new public transport/logistics system was launched on the SHAARE software infrastructure platform (see next section) and it wasn’t long before Uber became another casualty of an organization that couldn’t compete in a post -world.
The ramifications of this AI optimised transport and logistics system was that Supply Chain logistics became drastically more efficient and cheaper. The winners being all the stakeholders of the Good Food Ecosystem from farm to belly.
By far the most exciting simple idea that transformed the Central Victorian Food System and subsequently the world was the SHAARE (StakeHolder Advance Activity Resource Ecosystem) Infrastructure Software platform.
Traditionally infrastructure was thought of as hard assets like road, rail, electricity transmission and telecommunications including the hardware that makes up the Internet. These assets are the platforms we build our society on. The more robust, reliable and resilient the infrastructure, the easier to innovate and build a thriving economy.
The Internet was the first major infrastructure software. Next generations have since rolled out The Internet of Things, The Internet of Energy and the The Internet of Mobility. Some layers of infrastructure are ‘on the commons’ for free open source use like Wikipedia. Others were held by VC funded extractive capitalist companies like Google, Facebook and Uber.
SHAARE was a project to develop an end to end blockchain software platform on the commons where all of the produce and its associated information and data can be managed paddock to plate. This supply chain authenticity and visibility was a huge step forward for Food systems particularly when it gave consumers visibility of attributes like carbon and water footprints so they could make better ethical consumer choices.
The other powerful ramifications of SHAARE are included in the Part 1 attachment to the submission
It was this functionality that not only streamlined transport but underpinned Victoria’s Good Food Ecosystem creating improved happiness and wellbeing for all.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?