This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Creating Alternative Food Systems With Melbourne Food Hub

Sustainable Design

Little did we know door-to-door delivery services were about to become a LOT more popular in 2020. But it’s a model Melbourne Food Hub have been trialing for a while. The urban farm based in Alphington launched in 2016, with the mission of creating a hyperlocal alternative food system to supermarkets, one which supports the community, environment and farmers.

This year, the Melbourne Food Hub launched Grow/Source/Eat: a weekly delivery service providing subscribers with sustainably sourced and locally grown fruit and veggie boxes from small-scale urban farmers. They also collaborate with businesses and hunger relief organisations to address immediate needs within the community. We are big fans of this project, so much so that they are shortlisted in the Sustainable Design or Initiative category of The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards!

We recently (pre-lockdown!) visited the hub’s Urban Farm in Alphington to learn more about this pioneering program.

28th August, 2020

Grow/Source/Eat is a weekly delivery service providing subscribers with sustainably sourced and locally grown fruit and veggie boxes from small-scale urban farmers. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

The program is a part of Melbourne Food Hub, which runs its own urban farm in Alphington. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Clare Harvey is one of the Urban Farm’s farmers (left), and Nichole Foster is the Grow/Source/Eat program manager (right). Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

To date Grow/Source/Eat have distributed over 6,500kg or 1429 parcels of sustainably grown, local produce adding up to $36,808 of sales to around 14 small-scale farmers. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

By partnering with regenerative, next generation farmers, the program encourages hyperlocal consumption and education around seasonal produce. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

‘There’s no way around participating in food systems, whether that means going to Coles or your local farmers market each weekend. Melbourne Food Hub is meant to create a space where individuals aren’t forced into being a consumer, but where they can participate in the food system,’ says Nichole. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

GSE has distributed 54 different varieties of vegetables and herbs and 10 varieties of fruits from celeriac to blood oranges and everything Victoria produces in between. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

GSE is also working closely with locally run community organisations like Whittlesea Food CollectiveLentil As Anything and Bridge Darebin to assist in hunger relief efforts. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Alphington farmer, Clare Harvey. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Melbourne Food Hub’s vision originates in the USA and Canada, where food hubs bring together small and medium scale producers to create greater market access and increase efficiency within the selling and distributing of locally grown produce. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Melbourne Food Hub are aiming to educate the public on the importance of eating locally grown, seasonal produce and fight off the stigmas against it. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Sasha Gattermayr
Friday 28th August 2020

‘To date we have distributed over 6,500kg or 1429 parcels of sustainably grown, local produce adding up to $36,808 of sales to around 14 small-scale farmers.’ – Nichole Foster

Since the onset of the global pandemic in March, food has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Between the surge in homemade bread baking and panic-ravaged supermarket stocks, the disconnect between food consumption and education has become apparent. With a country as biodiverse as Australia – with the capability to grow and harvest literally thousands of food sources – why do we have such a warped perception of the supply chain?

Melbourne Food Hub is working to change that. With the launch of their fruit and veg delivery program, Grow/Source/Eat, the Hub provides over 100 subscribers with weekly packages of produce grown at their urban farm in Alphington. By partnering with regenerative, next generation farmers, the program encourages hyperlocal consumption and education around seasonal produce.

We caught up with Grow/Source/Eat program manager, Nichole Foster, to enlighten us more about the initiative, as well as the positive pandemic side effects for urban farmers seeking to provide an alternative to supermarkets. Hot tip: She REALLY knows her stuff!

Can you tell us a little about Melbourne Food Hub?

Melbourne Food Hub, initially funded through the Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation, was a collaborative effort between Sustain: Australia’s Food Network and Melbourne Farmers Markets. Since its inception in 2016, Melbourne Food Hub has grown into a thriving ecosystem of like-minded businesses and organizations, all working to create an alternative food system that supports its community, environment and farmers.

The Melbourne Food Hub farm remains at the Alphington site where our farmer Clare Harvey grows and contributes produce to the Grow / Source / Eat program each week. As of May 2020, Melbourne Food Hub has moved from a stationary food hub to a distributed model, collaborating with local businesses and hunger relief organisations to engage and address community needs.

Can you further elaborate on what it means to create ‘a replicable model of a self-sustaining Food Hub’ – what does this involve?

Melbourne Food Hub’s vision originates in the USA and Canada, where food hubs bring together small and medium scale producers to create greater market access and increase efficiency within the selling and distributing of locally grown produce. We have a vision of creating a replicable model like this here in Australia, a place where individuals and businesses can come to learn and develop their own techniques, to benefit their communities’ specific needs.

In Melbourne, our Grow / Source / Eat project has had the privilege of being mentored by Edithvale Community Greengrocer, a wholefoods store and veggie box program. To create a long-term sustainable food system, collaboration over competition is key.

What are some of the community benefits of this, particularly in an urban context? And how can people be part of this?

There’s no way around participating in food systems, whether that means going to Coles or your local farmers market each weekend. Melbourne Food Hub is meant to create a space where individuals aren’t forced into being a consumer, but where they can participate in the food system. That could be volunteering at the urban farm, attending farmers markets, subscribing to a weekly fruit & veggie parcel, attending webinars, (and one day post COVID) attending dinners and meet and greets with farmers.

Our Grow / Source / Eat program is one way to bring like-minded people and people new to sustainable food together. Our community of over 100 subscribers interact with one another and our farmers over social media. They share recipes, tips and tricks to new produce they’ve never before tried and are able to engage one another in a way that feels social, even if we’re all stuck indoors.

GSE is also working closely with locally run community organisations like Whittlesea Food Collective, Lentil As Anything and Bridge Darebin to assist in hunger relief efforts. Any produce leftover from each packing day is donated and we are working with our small-scale farms to rescue food waste and redistribute to communities in need.

What is the Grow/Source/Eat program, and how long has it been running for?

Grow / Source / Eat is a weekly fruit + veggie subscription program that began in late 2019. After running a few trial subscriptions throughout the summer, we launched our official subscription program in March 2020 – just weeks before our first COVID lockdown in Melbourne.

The program is focused on local, sustainably grown produce and the farmers who grow it. We support our farmers directly by paying a fair rate for their produce, educating the public on sustainable, seasonal eating and purchasing items unknown to many eaters (broccoli leaves anyone?).

To date we have distributed over 6,500kg or 1429 parcels of sustainably grown, local produce adding up to $36,808 of sales to around 14 small-scale farmers, including our very own Urban Farm at Alphington. From these farmers we have distributed 54 different varieties of vegetables and herbs and 10 varieties of fruits from celeriac to blood oranges and everything Victoria produces in between.

What’s next for Melbourne Food Hub?

Melbourne Food Hub  is constantly thinking about the future of food systems and food security. MFH envisions a food system where urban farms are scattered throughout the city, and our peri-urban agricultural areas are supported through food hubs catering to the specific needs of the communities they serve. We are looking to expand our partnerships to address the pressing social, environmental and economic stressors that Melbourne and Australia now faces as a result of COVID-19 and the climate crisis.

Our hearts are set on creating a sustainable distribution model for small scale growers and makers, linking their products to the right customer bases and markets. We are aiming to educate the public on the importance of eating locally grown, seasonal produce and fight off the stigmas against it. Produce grown sustainably (without chemicals) might not be picture perfect – what you’re used to seeing in Woolies – but is more nutritious, has lower food miles (how far your produce travels from farm to plate), reinvests your dollars into the local economy and supports farmers looking after the health of our lands.

Keen to know about Melbourne Food Hub’s philosophy? See here for more info. And here to discover more about Grow/Source/Eat subscriptions!

This Week

Design Eye

Lauren Li on Contemporary Curves

Square, blocky shapes are out, and CURVY furniture is in - Interior designer Lauren Li gives us the lowdown.
Lucy Feagins
  8 hours ago

News

A Limited Edition Trio Of Vessels From Mud Inspired By Margaret Preston

Mud has collaborated with the National Gallery of Australia on a limited edition collection of vessels that pay homage to the iconic Austral...
Sally Tabart
  5 hours ago

Architecture

A Coastal Family Home Without Any Coastal Cliches!

A contemporary home for furniture designers - meet Coastal Pavilion by Mim Design, on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

Family

BE. Founder Grace Dlabik On Smashing Stereotypes + Parenting A Child With Disability

Grace's son 17-year son Elijah was born with a complication that led to quadriplegia Cerebral palsy. Despite the significant challenges they...
Ashe Davenport

Homes

A Pascoe Vale South Home With Palm Springs Flair

The delightful family home of Jake Cassar and Naomi Jankowski in Pascoe Vale South, Melbourne counts Palm Springs and David Hockey as design...
Lucy Feagins
  16 hours ago

Christmas Countdown

Get The Best Drinks Delivered For Christmas With A 10% Discount!

Stock up your fridge and get your Christmas shopping sorted with 10% off our favourite drinks from Diggin’ In The Cellars.
Lucy Feagins

On The Market

This Grand 1860s Terrace In Melbourne’s Inner North Is Up For Grabs!

An original Victorian gem with all the modern updates in one of Melbourne's most coveted inner-city locations has hit the market - and it wo...
Sasha Gattermayr

Shopping

Radiant New Table Linen From Bonnie + Neil, Just In Time For Summer Entertaining!

Elevate your summer dining table with ‘Clover’, the new summer collection from beloved Melbourne design duo, Bonnie and Neil.
Sasha Gattermayr

News

A Weekend Art + Ceramics Exhibition Hosted By YSG Studio

The award-winning interior design studio is hosting a two-day art event in collaboration with The DEA Store.
01:00

Gardens

See Inside Victoria’s Great Private Gardens + Art Collections, From Home!

Garden and art enthusiasts, unite! The NGV Women’s Association offers a look inside some of Victoria's most intriguing private gardens, vi...
Sasha Gattermayr

Studio Visit

Designing Vibrant + Joyous Clothes With A Cross-Continental Perspective

Dinzi Amobi unites the London of her upbringing with the Nigeria of her heritage through her fashion + homewares label - Ulo Australia.
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Buy A Print From A Local Designer And Raise Money For Mental Health Support

‘With Solace’ brings together 23 local illustrators, typographers, photographers and designers to raise funds for ReachOut.

News

All Of Your Favourite Makers In One Decadent Showcase!

Craft Victoria hosts an end-of-year exhibition for the crème de la crème of the state’s artisanal creatives.

Studio Visit

A Studio Visit With One Of Australia’s Most Exciting Young Architecture + Design Firms

Jesse Bennett and Anne-Marie Campagnolo have been married for 10 years, and together, they have created some of the most impressive architec...

News

An Amazing Design Auction To Help Support Bushfire Recovery

Limited-edition ceramics or a weekend on Bruny Island are just some of the incredible items available in this online fundraising auction by
Sasha Gattermayr
  7 hours ago

View Comments

Similar Stories

TDF Design Awards

These 12 Innovators Are Forging The Path For Sustainable Design In Australia

From sunglasses made from 100% ocean waste, to lighting created using discarded phone screens, these are the impressive Sustainable Design f...
Lucy Feagins

Gardens

How To Start A Productive Garden TODAY!

We turn to three seasoned experts for tips on how to get started, what to plant in small spaces and how long it will take to start seeing re...

Community

The Brilliant Initiative Nurturing Peace + Prosperity At Victoria's Government House

The Governor of Victoria, Linda Dessau AC, takes us through her ‘Peace and Prosperity Kitchen Garden' initiative, which brings together wo...
Elle Murrell

This Week

Architecture

A Coastal Family Home Without Any Coastal Cliches!

A contemporary home for furniture designers - meet Coastal Pavilion by Mim Design, on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

Christmas Countdown

Get The Best Drinks Delivered For Christmas With A 10% Discount!

Stock up your fridge and get your Christmas shopping sorted with 10% off our favourite drinks from Diggin’ In The Cellars.
Lucy Feagins

News

A Weekend Art + Ceramics Exhibition Hosted By YSG Studio

The award-winning interior design studio is hosting a two-day art event in collaboration with The DEA Store.

Studio Visit

Designing Vibrant + Joyous Clothes With A Cross-Continental Perspective

Dinzi Amobi unites the London of her upbringing with the Nigeria of her heritage through her fashion + homewares label - Ulo Australia.
Sasha Gattermayr

Homes

A Pascoe Vale South Home With Palm Springs Flair

The delightful family home of Jake Cassar and Naomi Jankowski in Pascoe Vale South, Melbourne counts Palm Springs and David Hockey as design...
Lucy Feagins
  16 hours ago
01:00

Gardens

See Inside Victoria’s Great Private Gardens + Art Collections, From Home!

Garden and art enthusiasts, unite! The NGV Women’s Association offers a look inside some of Victoria's most intriguing private gardens, vi...
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Buy A Print From A Local Designer And Raise Money For Mental Health Support

‘With Solace’ brings together 23 local illustrators, typographers, photographers and designers to raise funds for ReachOut.

Shopping

Radiant New Table Linen From Bonnie + Neil, Just In Time For Summer Entertaining!

Elevate your summer dining table with ‘Clover’, the new summer collection from beloved Melbourne design duo, Bonnie and Neil.
Sasha Gattermayr

On The Market

This Grand 1860s Terrace In Melbourne’s Inner North Is Up For Grabs!

An original Victorian gem with all the modern updates in one of Melbourne's most coveted inner-city locations has hit the market - and it wo...
Sasha Gattermayr

News

All Of Your Favourite Makers In One Decadent Showcase!

Craft Victoria hosts an end-of-year exhibition for the crème de la crème of the state’s artisanal creatives.

Family

BE. Founder Grace Dlabik On Smashing Stereotypes + Parenting A Child With Disability

Grace's son 17-year son Elijah was born with a complication that led to quadriplegia Cerebral palsy. Despite the significant challenges they...
Ashe Davenport

Studio Visit

A Studio Visit With One Of Australia’s Most Exciting Young Architecture + Design Firms

Jesse Bennett and Anne-Marie Campagnolo have been married for 10 years, and together, they have created some of the most impressive architec...

Design Eye

Lauren Li on Contemporary Curves

Square, blocky shapes are out, and CURVY furniture is in - Interior designer Lauren Li gives us the lowdown.
Lucy Feagins
  8 hours ago

News

An Amazing Design Auction To Help Support Bushfire Recovery

Limited-edition ceramics or a weekend on Bruny Island are just some of the incredible items available in this online fundraising auction by
Sasha Gattermayr
  7 hours ago

News

A Limited Edition Trio Of Vessels From Mud Inspired By Margaret Preston

Mud has collaborated with the National Gallery of Australia on a limited edition collection of vessels that pay homage to the iconic Austral...
Sally Tabart
  5 hours ago

Similar Stories

TDF Design Awards

These 12 Innovators Are Forging The Path For Sustainable Design In Australia

From sunglasses made from ocean waste, to lighting created using discarded phone screens!
Lucy Feagins

Gardens

How To Start A Productive Garden TODAY!

Three experts on how to get started, what to plant in small spaces, and how long it will take to start seeing results!

Community

The Brilliant Initiative Nurturing Peace + Prosperity At Victoria's Government House

The Governor of Victoria, Linda Dessau AC, takes us through her ‘Peace and Prosperity Kitchen Garden' initiative, which brings together wo...
Elle Murrell

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.