Foodprint Melbourne Co-Design Workshops

  Award winner

How might we co-design an integrated approach to ensuring Melbourne’s foodbowl can feed current and future generations?

Client: University of Melbourne (funded by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation).

Melbourne’s foodbowl faces a range of challenges, including urban sprawl, climate change and pressures on the viability of farming in the region. If the city continues to grow the way it has in the past, the capacity of Melbourne’s foodbowl to feed the city could fall from 41% to around 18% by the time it reaches a population of 7 million.

Foodprint Melbourne is a research project that investigates the importance of Melbourne’s city fringe foodbowl for the city’s food supply. The project explores ways of strengthening food production on the city fringe so that Melbourne’s foodbowl contributes to a more resilient and sustainable food future for the city.

White Light Education was engaged by the University of Melbourne to facilitate five co-design workshops with a diverse range of project stakeholders to inform the development of an integrated roadmap for a resilient and sustainable Melbourne Foodbowl.

Five workshops were conducted between July 2018 and February 2019 with around 20 participants per workshop, and 62 participants were involved in total (some participants attended more than one workshop). During workshops, participants were asked to work in cross-sector teams (involving stakeholders from local and state government departments, farmers, industry and civil society groups) to identify strategies to strengthen the resilience of Melbourne’s foodbowl. A co-design approach allowed representatives of key stakeholder groups to collaborate in new ways in developing solutions. To create a safe space for participants to share their views openly, they were asked to adopt the ‘Chatham House Rule’, in which they were free to use information gained during the workshop, but not to reveal the identity of participants. Each workshop explored a different theme that sought to work toward an integrated approach to the Melbourne food system:

  • Workshop 1: Farming Viability (big picture)
  • Workshop 2: Farming Viability (proposals)
  • Workshop 3: Sustainability & Resilience (big picture)
  • Workshop 4: Sustainability & Resilience (proposals)
  • Workshop 5: Recommendations


Throughout the period of the co-design workshops a number of key outcomes were developed by the Foodprint Melbourne team including:

Outcomes from the five workshops culminated in the publication of the report in March 2019 entitled ‘Roadmap For A Resilient And Sustainable Melbourne Foodbowl’; a vision and roadmap for Melbourne’s foodbowl based on the following key insights:

  • Planning for a sustainable and resilient city foodbowl requires an integrated policy approach
  • Five key pillars of policy action underpin a resilient and sustainable city foodbowl – farmland protection, farm viability, water access, nutrient recycling and sustainable farming
  • Farmland should be permanently protected on Melbourne’s fringe by maintaining Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary, mapping agricultural land and introducing a new agricultural ‘zone’
  • Promoting the viability of farming in Melbourne’s foodbowl is as important as protecting farmland
  • Farm viability should be promoted by investing in infrastructure that enables small-medium scale farmers to gain greater control of supply chains, ensuring that peri-urban producers are able to access relevant funding streams and applying local government ‘farm rates’ to all actively farmed land
  • Water reuse for food production should be increased to address water scarcity in a warming climate
  • Water reuse should be increased by adopting an integrated water management approach to managing water assets in farming areas, developing integrated assessment frameworks to cost delivery of recycled water and investigating options for greater reuse of stormwater
  • City foodbowls offer opportunities to close the loop by returning valuable nutrients from city organic waste back to the soil
  • Nutrient recycling on farm should be promoted by preventing contamination of organic waste streams, collaborating with farmers to develop ‘fit for purpose’ compost products and establishing a Melbourne Nutrient Recycling Network
  • Sustainable farming should be incentivised in Melbourne’s foodbowl
  • Sustainable farming approaches should be incentivised through local government rate rebates, direct payments and extension services aimed at peri-urban farmers
  • A diverse range of sustainable farming approaches should be promoted to increase the resilience of the city’s food system, including regenerative and agro-ecological approaches as well as sustainable intensification and closed-environment agriculture


To download the Foodprint Melbourne ‘Roadmap For A Resilient And Sustainable Melbourne Foodbowl’ Report, visit:

For more information on Foodprint Melbourne visit:

Christian is a highly skilled co-design practitioner and facilitator, who did an excellent job during the Foodprint Melbourne workshops of putting participants at ease, making the process enjoyable and enabling constructive workshop outcomes. He helped to design a process that enabled a diverse range of stakeholders to collaborate in developing innovative ideas and a concrete set of proposals. Look forward to working with you again in future Christian.

Dr. Rachel Carey

Lecturer in Food Systems, University of Melbourne


Join Our Community