Shepparton Food Hub
KidsTown, Mooroopna, 2013The Shepparton Food Hub evolved out of the City of Greater Shepparton’s desire to create a community garden at KidsTown adventure playground in Mooroopna. Pollen Studio sought out Emily Ballantyne-Brodie of Sustainable Everyday as a key partner to develop the design and services of the garden and together we realised that this could be much more than just a garden and could help address a whole range of food-related issues for the Greater Shepparton region.Greater Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley region is known as the ‘food bowl’ of Australia generating 25% of the total value of Victoria’s agricultural products, yet access to fresh food is still a problem for many people in the area, creating considerable food insecurity problems. One way of addressing this issue is to create community-led Food Hubs which is a place that centralizes local food services, provides food education programs and enhances community spirit. This is not so much a place for intensive food processing and distribution, but rather a social place for making connections, improving business and creating an enhanced food community. The most important aspect of a project like this is to engage the community and find out who are the key partners and stakeholders for the project. Extensive engagement occurred in the community over several months, including visits to local farms, schools, businesses and organisations.The Local Lunch workshop was the first consultation event held at KidsTown and provided an opportunity for local people to come together and share ideas on what the Shepparton Food Hub could entail. Food from local producers was provided and stories from people in the local food industry were heard.One of the initial exercises during the Local Lunch Workshop was to ask people how a Food Hub could be relevant to them through filling out a Narrative Template and to place themselves within a picture to start to visualize how they will become a part of the project.Food Stories were also developed by visiting and listening to local food producers. Their stories were displayed on the tables at the Local Lunch to remind people of where their food comes from.Following the review of community consultation and the development of service and business models, a detailed concept plan was prepared to guide the development and staging of physical infrastructure for the site. The overall aim of the design is to create flexible spaces that can accommodate multiple services that can be programmed differently as the need arises.
The design aims to use as many of the existing facilities as possible, including underutilized spaces at KidsTown that can be shared with the Food Hub. The existing house on the western boundary of the site is proposed to be renovated and used as an Education Centre and Workshop, whilst the existing Community Garden and sheds will also be utilised.New facilities have been proposed including a Community Garden, Market Site, Research Garden, Nursery, Industrial Kitchen, Kitchen Garden, Retail Shops and other facilities that will house the multiple services that can operate throughout the site.The site has a strong connection with the local Yorta Yorta community and so an Indigenous Education Garden has been proposed adjacent to the neighbouring Goulburn River floodplain.The Shepparton Food Hub is a $7million proposal that needs to unfold over multiple stages under a flexible implementation strategy that we hope will be supported by the local community, social entrepreneurs and businesses as well as local, state and federal government organisations. The project is currently being assessed as a draft by Greater Shepparton City Council with the hope of commencing in 2014/15.