Draft Food Hub feasibility study released for public comment

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The Greater Bendigo Food Hub feasibility study has been released for public comment and identifies potential models of operation for a sustainable regional food hub, which would address food relief, education and production.

Three geographic areas – the Greater Bendigo municipality, urban Bendigo and the city fringe – and three business models were considered as part of the study. The former Crystal Ice site in Garsed Street, central Bendigo, was also investigated as a potential location for the Loddon Mallee’s first-ever Food Hub.

Cr James Williams said Model 1, with the possibility of using the Garsed Street site, is considered the best option to start with as it allows for the project to be staged over time.

“The site has the ability to cater for truck access, small garden beds, kitchen, café, dry storage, cold storage, freezers and an office. There is also room to see the site further developed to accommodate Model 2 and allow for a food truck fleet, commercial kitchen, community garden, aquaponics set up, compost, and training and events space,” Cr Williams said.

“Beyond this central site, the study also explores the possibility of a third model, which focuses on a food network that sees suburbs of Bendigo hosting their own Food Hub sites. Ultimately, it is hoped growing food is a part of everyday life in Greater Bendigo, such as growing food on nature strips and more community gardens.

“Food production in the Loddon region is valued at $419M and includes livestock and vegetable, fruit and nut production, with a number of manufacturers and wholesalers distributing these products.

“If there is a way to harness what would otherwise go to waste and address some of the documented health and food insecurity challenges Bendigo faces, then this proposal of a Food Hub is well worth exploring.

“Should it eventuate, Bendigo would join a list of Australian and international cities, including Melbourne, Brisbane, Todmorden in England and Toronto in Canada, that have Food Hubs in place.

“Bendigo already has a thriving community food sector, which includes Farmers’ Markets, the Bendigo Community Food Network and Regional Food Alliance, many schools have their own kitchen gardens, community cooking programs and several emergency food relief organisations. A Food Hub appears to be a logical next step.”

An Economic Impact Assessment for the Model 1 proposal found activities associated with a Food Hub in Greater Bendigo would:

After 12 months:

  • Create 16 new jobs
  • Create a $2.62M increase in total output to the Bendigo economy

After five years:

  • Create 30 jobs
  • Create a $4.75M increase in total output to the Bendigo economy
  • The Food Hub could generate net revenue in excess of $330,000

The Garsed Street site is owned by property fund manager ISPT, which also owns the Bendigo Marketplace.

The study will be available for public comment for four weeks and can be viewed on the City's website. Comments or feedback can be submitted Executive Officer, Matthew Kerlin, by emailing [email protected]

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