Global food insecurity points to Urban food farms

04 Jul 2022

Global food insecurity points to Urban food farms featured image

In the face of global food security challenges, the Winston Churchill Trust is sending Fiona Buining from the ACT overseas to investigate urban farm ventures.

“Fiona’s Churchill Fellowship is very timely, as global food prices have increased 65 per cent in the last two years, the highest level since 2012.” said Mr Adam Davey, CEO of the Winston Churchill Trust.*

Export restrictions reduce the supply of food available on world markets, which leads to higher prices, and could cause world prices to spiral even higher.

America’s largest urban street farm is just one of her stop-offs. Fiona is headed to Canada, US, UK, and the Netherlands to learn from the world’s leading urban farmers and bring her learnings home.

“More people involved in urban farming in Australia is an important step in building food security at a local level.” Mr Davey said.

As an Australian urban grower, Fiona has observed an unmet demand for locally grown fresh food.

Fiona said “Growing good food is one of the most positive actions people can do for their own health,”

Fiona sees new and exciting opportunities and vocational pathways in urban farming.

As a teacher, Ms Buining managed the Merici College Kitchen Teaching Garden for seven years, growing seasonal vegetables using organic growing methods to supply the school canteen and restaurant.

“Working with teenagers as a teacher I have seen first-hand the physical and mental health benefits of learning to grow food.” said Ms Buining.

Fiona runs Ainslie Urban Farm where she grows microgreens, in green houses in her backyard in Ainslie, for local restaurants and cafes.

Since Covid19 Fiona has also been growing and selling seasonal vegetable seedlings suited to Canberra’s conditions. Fiona’s property has over 50 fruit trees, nuts, berries, vegetables, two beehives, chickens and working rabbits.

“I am passionate about growing plants, especially food plants, and I am inspired to create pathways for future food growers in urban areas.” said Ms Buining, who has grown vegetables wherever she has lived.

Fiona’s work was recognised at Merici College who won the ACT Keep Australia Beautiful Sustainable Cities Award in 2012 and the ACTsmart Schools Sustainable School of the Year in 2019.

Fiona majored in plant ecology and physiology at Macquarie University graduating with First Class Honours. She completed the first Permaculture Design Course taught by David Holmgren in the 1990’s and later taught residential Permaculture Design Courses with David for seven years.

For nearly 60 years, the Winston Churchill Trust has flown more than 4,500 talented Australians around the globe to pursue their passion and bring their knowledge home. Churchill Fellows are people from all walks of life and all sectors; the arts, science, health, agriculture, and beyond. The breadth of topics for Churchill Fellowships are limitless.

* Source: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry, Food security – the impact of export restrictions 2022

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