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Food Security

Food Security means ensuring reliable access to sufficient affordable, nutritious food for the population. It incorporates a measure of resilience to future disruption or unavailability of critical food supply, at the local and regional level.

Statement of Principle

The Newcastle Greens believe that access to affordable, healthy, fresh, local, sustainably produced food is critical to the health and wellbeing of our city. With a growing population and increased pressures on farmland, ensuring its supply will require careful policy in all spheres of government. We often take our food supply for granted but the recent experience of shortages of some food items due to drought and fires should focus our attention. Cities with well prepared food security strategies will be best placed for adapting to increasing demand and disruptive climate impacts.

Sustainable agriculture is essential to ensure Newcastle’s food security, increase biodiversity, protect water resources and contribute to zero carbon emissions from the agricultural sector.

Newcastle is fortunate to enjoy optimal conditions for food-growing: a temperate climate and the fertile soils of the Hunter Valley. This region could be self-sustaining in foods of the highest quality and variety. However, the

increasing encroachment of the Hunter’s arable land by large open-cut coal mines has effectively laid waste to large tracts of previously productive farmland. Other competing land uses like turf farms, horse studs and housing developments seriously compete for productive land in our region.

To confront the challenges of accelerating climate change and rapidly diminishing water supplies and agricultural lands, Newcastle Council, as part of Hunter Councils, could play a key role in ensuring the region and all its councils collaborate in planning for a sustainable bioregion.

Newcastle Greens will work with Council and the community to ensure:

  • the city and surrounding rural lands of the Hunter Valley provide sufficient fresh food for the local population
  • Newcastle’s urban and peri-urban areas are protected from encroachment through planning legislation and policy, and initiatives developed to encourage sustainable agricultural production in these areas
  • Newcastle Council plays a key role in coordinating and promoting education and training in the wider community and within its own staff on sustainable food production in the city
  • seed diversity is maintained through seed banks, seed saving networks and smaller, more crop- diverse farms
  • regenerative farming practices are encouraged through promoting outlets that advise on and distribute these products locally
  • support is given to small farmers and local gardeners through community supported agriculture projects, farmers markets and initiatives like the Newcastle Urban Tucker Stall where urban growers can sell their excess

Growing food in the Newcastle Local Government Area.

While it is unlikely that residents could produce enough food within the Local Government Area for the needs of the population, there are opportunities to boost urban food production whilst educating the community about the time, energy and resources that it requires to grow food, and about the importance of fresh food and healthy soils.

The Newcastle Greens will work with Council and the community to:

  • conduct a Council audit and oversight of projects in urban areas which would include revitalising, promoting and increasing community gardens, school gardens and backyard food production
  • establish positions on council to support and build upon existing community gardens, to run workshops about local food growing and to build connections between food growers in the city and
  • include traditional and native fruit and nut trees in community gardens or establish small community orchards
  • identify and use native food plants that can be grown as street trees and in ornamental plantings to provide food for residents and native fauna
  • establish zones for free local food

Food rescue

Food waste is a significant problem in our society. Estimates suggest that one third of food waste happens in the paddock, one third in distribution and one third with the consumer.

While Newcastle’s soon to be built composting facility will help to address methane emissions from organics in our landfill, it will not diminish food waste. Changing consumer behaviour can help to address all three and council has a role to play in educating our population.

The Newcastle Greens will work with Council and the community to:

  • support initiatives like Oz Harvest and food banks to work towards zero food waste
  • establish Council education programs that reveal the problems with our current food system and ways consumers can make new choices to address the unnecessary waste of food, energy and
  • work with local food producers to find viable avenues to market their crops
  • provide grants for innovative programs that foster behavioural changes toward sustainable food choices and

Facilitating a climate of co-operation around food security

Locally sustainable food choices start from infancy. Both individual and organisational choices will determine how this essential requirement is managed.

The Newcastle Greens will work with Council and the community to:

  • promote breastfeeding as the preferred choice for the newborn, including provision of safe spaces where women can feel comfortable feeding their babies while away from
  • encourage families and schools to introduce practises of growing food crops for nourishment and to create in children a culture away from dependence on commercial packaged food
  • establish a task force comprising asset management staff, academics and other researchers in the field, and experts with local knowledge of small and large scale local food production to be tasked with devising a Food Security Plan for the Newcastle Local Government Area and surrounding Hunter Valley LGAs.