Griffith University: Exploring future solutions to urban food production

Cultivating fresh thinking on urban food agriculture is a key focus for PhD candidate Geoff Ebbs from the Griffith Centre for Sustainable Enterprise.

From rooftop and vertical farms to community gardens, there are several community projects experimenting with producing food in cities. But Geoff says in the future we will need these projects to grow in scale and adopt innovative distribution models.

“Community food-box coperatives that focus on getting a fair price to the farmer while ensuring high quality to the consumer are promising but small in scale. They also don’t address food equity, where people in lower socio-economic areas have less access to high quality fruit and veg.”

As part of his PhD, Geoff is evaluating innovations in localised agriculture systems which allow greater access to growing and harvesting food on a network of small plots of land.

“These communal activities create a social network around urban food agriculture, but figuring out how to scale up these schemes and identify the obstacles to that growth is a really important part of my work.”

“Internationally, governments have invested in support infrastructure to implement evolutionary change in small business, community food and changes in agricultural practice to preserve water, carbon and nutrient systems.”

“Those areas have generally been dealt with separately, and each of them involves innovations in culture, technology and policy.”

“I see my research operating at the interplay between those areas to integrate existing knowledge and address the challenge of how we feed ourselves in a way that is environmentally sustainable and equitable for everyone.”

Geoff is building on his research with a new book on sustainability in the home, Your Life Your Planet published by Australian Geographic.

“On one level this book is 101 tips for living sustainability, but I want readers to become aware of their personal carbon target. If Australia is going to meet our Paris commitment, we would need a significant change in lifestyle for the average Australian.”

“As a researcher I assumed the problem was a lack of awareness of the science. My journey has been a gradual realisation that isn’t the case. I’ve become more interested in how to translate a vision for change into real momentum.”

“While we can try to solve many things technologically, we also need to consider our own impact on the environment and the cultural shape of the world we are creating.”

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