Design Feature
Type of Project

3000acres aims to build healthy, holistic and sustainable cities for generations to come by growing more food in more places. The organisation intends to break down the barriers to urban food growing by improving the cultural and regulatory environment; influencing the public and private sector to rethink vacant land use, and by empowering community groups to build capacity in relevant knowledge and skills.

Improving access to healthy foods in urban environments

Through an innovative collaboration with town planners, lawyers, residential developers and web-based developers, the solution to the issue of urban food insecurity was not to provide food to people, but to instead unlock pockets of vacant land to enable people to grow food for themselves. Within the City of Melbourne there is a vast amount of underutilised space, ranging from tiny verges on street corners, to vacant car parks, to large scale empty lots awaiting development. By considering the principles of ‘food-sensitive planning and urban design’, 3000acres recognised the potential of the vacant concrete lot as an un-tapped opportunity for creating more vibrant public open space, with both equitable access to healthy fresh produce and environments that support active and engaged communities.

A swap table for excess produce harvested from backyard and community gardens
A swap table for excess produce harvested from backyard and community gardens

Central to the project is an open-source and interactive map of existing and potential places to grow food across the City of Melbourne. Through this platform, community members gain access to others who express interest in a potential site. From there they can access a practical toolkit of information and resources to initiate a project - from handling lease agreements, liaising with council, and public liability insurance, through to practical instructions such as building a wicking bed and establishing management plans. 

Community members plant out seedlings at the Saxons St Community Garden in Brunswick Cropped
Community members plant out seedlings at the Saxons St Community Garden in Brunswick Cropped

3000acres helps people to navigate necessary bureaucracy, and further facilitate engaged and proactive neighbourhood dynamics. Since its beginning, 3000acres has built a strong network of landowners, councils, organisations, urban farmers and over 6 thousand community members, using urban food growing as a platform to achieve a common goal of a more supportive healthy food environment. 3000acres have managed the establishment of seven new urban food growing projects around Melbourne, and assisted in the establishment of many others including facilitating projects in rural communities such as Wangaratta and Mildura.

To better enable the community to grow food for themselves, 3000acres continue to advocate for changes in the Victorian Government's planning policy to address amendments that will reduce the regulatory burden impeding the establishment of more community gardens in urban environments. Furthermore, the organisation coordinates a range of events to equip the community with the knowledge and skills they need to engage in the projects offered. This ranges from practical skill sharing workshops and working bees, to facilitating seminars on community garden establishment and management, to a number of large scale community festivals that promote local and sustainable food growing.

Project team

  • 3000acres staff
  • 3000acres Board members
  • Volunteer team
  • Community members
  • City of Yarra, City of Darebin, Moreland City Council, City of Boroondara, City of Melbourne
  • Statutory bodies such as VicTrack and Melbourne Water

Project cost

  • Initial funding of $170,000, now supported through a community membership model, a series of $5-10,000 project specific community access grants, along with a number of consultancy projects.

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