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The potential of food to inspire positive change.

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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Sandro Demaio Foundation

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

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

  • 3-10 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 Melbourne metropolitan area and its foodbowls

What country is your selected Place located in?


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.

Melbourne is a vibrant modern metropolis, in Victoria, Australia. According to some it’s the world’s most liveable city - an intersection of good food, dynamic arts and culture, lush and open parks, and a stable community. Importantly, it’s home to an indigenous population who have been the careful and studious custodians of the land for over 40,000 years – those from the Kulin nation, an alliance of three tribes of the Wurundjeri, Boonwurrung and Wathaurong - whose sovereignty was never ceded.

Today, Melbourne comprises almost 5 million people and has grown to become a culturally diverse city with people all over the world calling it home. With 31 per cent of the population born overseas, and over 75 per cent of the population having foreign ancestry, it is no surprise that more than 35 per cent speak a language other than English at home.

Nothing reflects Melbourne’s lively multicultural scene more than its global food offering. This cultural diversity is a striking delight on the senses and a melting pot of cuisines, flavours, fusion and experimentation. Melbournians are as familiar with the fragrant and fresh Vietnamese pho, as Turkish gozleme, stuffed with spiced lamb, potato, cheese and spinach. With Italian migrants moving to Melbourne in droves after the second world-war, you will find Sicilian-born pastry chefs, piping fresh cannoli shells with ricotta, mascarpone and candied citrus. With a wave of Indian migrants moving in the late nineties, you’ll find sweet and sour puffed rice salads, crisp-edged masala dosas and papri chaat warming Melbournian’s bellies. Take a short walk down the thriving Chinatown and you are likely to find glossy barbecued meats, fiery Sichuan hotpot and creamy congee. There are also restaurants and community centres redolent of African roots providing lip-smacking flavours. With the city hosting the largest Greek population of any city in the world outside of Greece, it’s also no surprise that Melburnians love grilled octopus, sizzling saganaki and mouth-watering taramasalata dip. 

Melbourne has a temperate climate. While Melburnians often joke of the phenomenon ‘four seasons in one day’, Melbourne enjoys warm-hot summer months, balmy and mild spring and autumn months, and cooler winter months. However, averages can be deceiving, with global warming and Australia’s worsening drought cause for continual concern.

Like many other world cities, Melbourne was founded in an area with fertile soils and good water resources. As such, Melbourne is surrounded by a highly productive agricultural foodbowl, comprising many small but highly productive regions. 47% of Victoria’s vegetables are grown in the foodbowl.

Melbourne prides itself on being a rich hub of culture, future and innovation. It strives to be one of the top ecosystems for startups over the next decade. With an estimated intergenerational wealth transfer to millennials of $59 trillion over the coming years, the time for shared knowledge and motivation to shape an ambitious, healthy, resilient and climate-smart future is now.

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.

Environment 2020: The farmland in Melbourne’s foodbowl is highly productive across a range of commodities; however, large areas of farmland have been lost to urban development. Furthermore, sheep, cattle and chicken are relatively intensive GHG emitters, and are mostly reared in ‘intensive’ environments rather than free-range production.

Environment 2050: According to the University of Melbourne’s FoodPrint report, Melbourne’s population is predicted to grow to at least 7 million by 2050, and will require 60% more food to meet the population’s needs. By 2050, around 16% of the farmland in Melbourne’s foodbowl could be lost if long-term urban density trends continue, including up to 77% of farmland in the inner foodbowl. Climate change will also have a significant impact on agriculture in Australia through decreasing rainfall, rising temperatures, and increasing frequency of extreme weather events. The added pressure of climate change on food production puts increasing stress on Melbourne’s agricultural production.

Diets 2020: In Australia one in four Australian kids and two in three adults are overweight or obese, and this trend is only rising. It’s not a matter of benign padding, obese children and adults are more likely to develop chronic conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression. What’s more obesity is more prevalent in areas of socio-economic disadvantage.In terms of dietary patterns, we know that 95% of Australians do not eat the daily recommended servings of fruit and vegetables.

Diets 2050: If our current consumption patterns continue in Australia, we will see increased consumption of sugars, saturated fats and processed red meats. Alongside under consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.

Economics 2020: Deloitte Access Economics estimates that the existing economic contribution of agriculture and related food manufacturing in Melbourne’s foodbowl is $2.45 billion per annum to gross regional product (GRP), and 21,001 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs.

Economics 2050: The threat to the value of the foodbowl from urban development is significant. Under a future of Melbourne at 7 million people, some loss of agricultural land to urban development is expected and the value of annual agricultural output is modelled to fall by between $32 million and $111 million, with higher fresh food prices.

Another threat to the economic viability of the foodbowl is the division between large agricultural conglomerates versus smaller scale farmers.

Culture 2020: While Melbourne is heralded as a multi-cultural hot-pot, there are many community groups who do not feel included within Melbourne’s food bowl and system. Furthermore, children are removed from how food is grown, sourced and produced, leading to a lack of knowledge around food production and basic cooking skills.

Culture 2050: Food, how to cook it, what it does to you and what growing or rearing it does to the planet are issues that crowd the media. With more ‘ism’s emerging (vegan, keto etc), there is a possibility of creating more ‘others’ in the food system and creating greater segregation, rather than integration and inclusiveness.

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

ENVIRONMENT: We will lay the foundations for a transition to a low-carbon economy, that will protect, promote and preserve Melbourne’s food bowl.

DIET: We aim to shift diets and create an environment for supportive culture change. Provoking

ECONOMIC: We will support the shift to get consumers and businesses to increase their food intake from Melbourne’s food bowl. According to Deloitte, under a scenario where consumers in Melbourne’s foodbowl increase their consumption of local food by a modest amount of 10%, the value of annual agricultural output from the foodbowl is modelled to be $290 million higher per annum. Environmentally sustainable and local food offerings will take on a larger role in Melbourne and consumers will demand more sustainable, regenerative and plant- based food options.

CULTURE: We will create a vibrant food culture that supports and expands on the diverse food traditions of all Melbournian's and supports the benefits of local, season and healthy food.

TECHNOLOGICAL: We will showcase advancements in technological innovation and utilise them to embark on exciting transformations in the way we grow, process, order, and individualise food.

POLITICAL: At a policy and program level, we will have support for a resilient and nutritious food system, with high levels of active engagement from food-system stakeholders, politicians and local residents. These policies will be embedded within all Ministerial departments at a state level.

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.

Our mission is to inspire, empower and connect people to transform Melbourne’s food system.

We will do this through festival21 - a bold and imaginative festival that dares to be creative, innovative and transformative.  festival21 will create a space for those in Melbourne’s food system to share ideas, spark action and collectively learn from one another.  It will offer an opportunity for all stakeholders in the food system- from consumers to farmers, policy makers to business leaders, and civil society organisations to researchers – to collectively work together.

We believe that through the festival we will see a multi-cultural and inclusive Melbourne that prioritises access to healthy, regionally appropriate and nourishing food for all communities across Melbourne.

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

We believe that transforming food systems requires diversity of thought, perspectives and solutions and that’s why we want to create an inclusive food system that listens to all voices across Melbourne.

By providing a platform and space for a dynamic, zero-waste, free celebration of food - and the power it has to create positive impact - we believe we can compel Melbournians from all backgrounds to consider their relationship with food, and the effect it has on the future of community, climate change and population health.

Our intention is to provide the stage for the people and organisations who are leading the way in this regard.

festival21 will:

  • Empower attendees to demonstrate and celebrate the transformative ‘power of the plate’, showcasing individuals and companies that are actively championing solutions through food.
  • Inspire up 5 million Melbournians to rethink their role within the food system, and in turn, equip them with a practical ‘toolkit’ for using their food choices to improve health, connect with their community, and support the environment.
  • To connect the thousands of foodies, countless ethical businesses, and hundreds of food-related social projects currently based in Melbourne, for ongoing interaction. Particularly projects that exist to improve support for sections of society that are most vulnerable, marginalised, or disadvantaged.
  • To deliver evidence and ideas through the lens of public health, design, art, photography, filmmaking, food, sustainability, and philosophy.
  • To connect the global with the local, by including international and local speakers from a diverse range of backgrounds and industries.
  • To leverage the power of data to understand how we can better utilise technology for food system reform and provide a space for new innovations and spark new ideas in hackathons around food systems.
  • To bring in young people, through education, art and play based learning.
  • To put the human in the centre – this isn’t about telling people what to eat or what not to eat.
  • To influence positive change in food policy by influencing the public.

We see our food system as a privilege that is worth celebrating. We inspire real, positive and bold transformations in the food system through the festival, that creates actionable, concrete change.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Conference/event


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