Urban Food Forests: A Policy Proposal

Relocalising food production – especially in urban centres – is absolutely critical to decarbonising our economies and making our communities more resilient. My vision of a sustainable urban landscape is one where the streets are lined with fruit and nut trees, supplying the community with a greater portion of its own food.

The City of Moreland (my local Council in Melbourne) is in the process of reviewing its policies on the urban landscape, including its regulations governing what can be planted in nature strips. Currently there are strict guidelines which prohibit residents from planting trees in their nature strips – despite the fact that there are hundreds of fruit trees already lining our streets. There are now ten flourishing fruits trees on my cul de sac alone!

Some Councils have recently opened up their guidelines to allow productive trees in nature strips. For example, here are three passages from the City of Yarra guidelines:

  • ‘The City of Yarra recognises the importance of urban agriculture in supporting community sustainability, especially in times of changing climate and the myriad of associated issues such as food security due to diminishing oil supplies.’
  • ‘Planting productive trees is considered by Council to be an effective means of inspiring and enabling community food production in the City of Yarra by generating environmental, social and economic wellbeing from the ground up – created for and by local people.’
  • ‘There are terrific social and physical benefits in being able to access safe public spaces to grow food and share fresh produce.’

The City of Moreland is currently seeking submissions from the community on their guidelines, and I have just drafted and submitted a policy proposal which can be read here

The aim is to convince Moreland to adopt something similar to the Yarra guidelines. I’ll keep you posted, and please leave a comment below if you’d like a word document of my policy proposal to amend and submit to your own council. I encourage you to do so!


13 Responses to “Urban Food Forests: A Policy Proposal”

  1. mischa says:

    nice one, sam. mind if i forward your submission to darebin council?

  2. Samuel Alexander says:

    Thanks Mischa! No problem at all, please do!

  3. Thomas says:

    I really like your vision of how to redesign the streets of our world.
    Latest post from Thomas…Mindfulness Velkommen

  4. Jane says:

    Hi Samuel,
    I would very much appreciate a copy of the word doc proposal. Since I read about guerilla gardening on nature strips in Melbourne I have constantly been noticing the potential for it here. My own nature strip has just grass! I used to live a few streets away from my present location. A neighbour of mine managed to get one tree planted on each house’s nature strip there, after lobbying the council. The council also waters the trees periodically. Kind regards, Jane, Launceston, Tasmania

  5. SJ says:

    I do like the whole concept of local food production and productive human landscapes in our urban areas. As a husbander of fruit and nut trees, I can see that more direction is required here. If a fruit tree does not get adequate nutrician, it gets disease. Trees need pruning and netting and picking up of wind fall to prevent fruit fly. Nuts on the ground promote rats and could cause hazards as people pick them of the road. I think that any fruit and nut trees planted in public space, need a group or individual as stewards and without that, the whole scheme could quickly turn sour.

  6. Samuel Alexander says:

    Thanks SJ, you raise good points, but I emphasised several times the importance of maintaining productive fruits trees. This means taking care of them and collecting the produce. Just as importantly, however, my view is that whatever risks or inconveniences there might be to having productive fruits trees in urban centres, the risks of NOT having them are infinitely greater. Our systems of food production are incredibly energy intensive and, for reasons I can’t go into right now, quite insecure. We need to grow more of our own food close to home, and nature strips provide us with this opportunity. We certainly need to be smart about how we do this, but we can be smart. We have to be.

  7. SJ says:

    Samuel, thanks for the feed back. I couldn’t agree more about how insecure our food is currently. In perth, we have built houses on our old market gardens close to the city and import cabbages and other basic vegies from China. Just crazy.

  8. A Human says:

    Likewise would like to be able to re-use your doc in presentation to Cairns/Cape councils

  9. A Human says:

    Forgot to say, great stuff all around at SC. Hope you get to Digger Street one day so you can see what we have created here.

    No supermarket for three years now, 75% waste reduction, next to no TV resulting in lots of creativity. The result of tearing down the fences between adjoining properties and centralising kitchens/laundry. It has dropped the cost of living dramatically and a simple elegance has returned to residents lives.

    Gardens going great so now its time to tackle the nature strips again thankyou for your inspiration and learnings

  10. Kristy says:

    Nice one! I’ve always wondered the same thing and I counter that any objections to (recognised) productive trees, stand for ornamentals too (some that fruit, drop leaves/branches) in terms of safety etc

    ‘A Human’ I’d like to know more please about your Digger St. I am off to Google to check it out but if you come across this could you post a reply please, links etc?

    With thanks to Samuel 🙂
    Latest post from Kristy…So the show has been on…

  11. Hi Kristy,

    come visit

  12. Kristy says:

    I did end up finding it but thankyou 🙂
    Latest post from Kristy…So the show has been on…

  13. Samuel Alexander says:

    A human, by all means, please use doc… But see next post, as I have rewritten doc for general submission. Great to hear from again. I’m inspired by diggers street.

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