SAGE Submission to Eurobodalla Council's draft Climate Action Plan

7 April 2022.

The SAGE NSW Inc Management Committee, on behalf of its members, requests that Council include a comprehensive Food Security section in the draft Climate Action Plan.
We believe the draft Eurobodalla Climate Action Plan cannot meet its objects (page 20) without incorporating robust actions around food security.
We note that the Bega Valley Climate Resilience Strategy 2050 includes Food Security as one of its eight Key Response Areas. Their section on food security has 16 distinct actions with timeframes, measures, and costs. We recommend council reviews this, and other plans and adds a sector/ theme for food security with actions to its Plan.
A community cannot be resilient to the impacts of climate change without secure access to locally produced and distributed food, water and shelter. The 2020 bushfires highlighted how quickly the supply and distribution of food coming from outside the region can be disrupted by power outages, highway closures, and other issues. Luckily the Moruya SAGE Farmers Market and e-market, and a
few local stores and direct outlets that sell local produce were able to stay open throughout the fires and supply customers without disruption. In addition to feeding the community, it also meant that market garden farmers could continue pick and sell their produce and keep their livelihoods and staff.
SAGE NSW Inc is a volunteer managed not for profit whose mission is to grow the local fair food community of people who grow, eat, prepare, sell, share and work with local food. We aim to enhance our community’s physical, mental and social health, and create jobs, business opportunities and connections.
As background, SAGE was founded in 2009 specifically to rebuild our local food system in the face of climate change and the need for improved food security.
Volunteers manage the weekly SAGE Farmers Market, and Stepping Stone Farm which is the only purpose built commercial market gardening training facility in Australia. We manage a strong program of educational and social activities; we manage the SAGE Garden, and we manage a
community food program that donates fresh healthy food to various local welfare groups and charities.
The SAGE Farmers Market has conducted two Economic Impact Studies in past years. The most recent in 2019-202 show that the total immediate economic benefit of the Market to venders, the host neighbourhood and the surrounding regions is more than $4,180,000 annually before the application of any economic multipliers.
After 13 years SAGE understands the elements required for a local food system, and these include:
1. We need more farmers and growers – and we are trying to address this with the unique
Stepping Stone Farm Training Facility,
2. There must be authentic growers markets where local produce can be sold directly to consumers - Eurobodalla only has two – Tilba and the Sage Market in Moruya.

3. There must be recognition by governments at all levels that the centralised food distribution system is increasingly vulnerable and one partial solution is legislative and financial support for the decentralisation of food growing and distribution. We believe that Eurobodalla has the potential to become the local food capital of Australia. With a farmers market somewhere in Eurobodalla every day of the week. Supported by Council.
SAGE is a wonderfully successful volunteer organisation, and we can cite many achievements, but we are facing challenges. We do not believe it is realistic for the responsibility of building and sustaining a local food system to rest solely with a volunteer organisation.
We ask Council to step up and be proactive about food security, to genuinely partner in the space with organisations like SAGE, to protect its community against the impacts of climate change on food supply and distribution, and to grow resilience.
Building food security is an action for climate resilience, and an action for the local economy as it creates jobs and attracts tourism. The SAGE Farmers Market in Moruya presents an iconic food experience that positions Eurobodalla as a food destination in many local, state and international tourism campaigns.
We believe that if Eurobodalla Shire Council is serious about climate reliance, then it must be serious about food security. We request that Council finds a way to ensure the aspects of the local food system already operating in Eurobodalla are supported and sustained to contribute to the community’s climate change resilience. We request that the efforts of the SAGE community - made up of people who grow, eat, prepare, sell, share, work and volunteer with local food over the past 13 years to build a local food system is recognised and built upon.
We specifically request Council works with SAGE to help to resolve financial challenges of the volunteer managed AGE Tuesday Farmers Market and Stepping Stone Farm training facility, as these two operations are necessary for our local food system.
SAGE NSW Inc is happy to be contacted to review new food security actions in the Eurobodalla Climate Action Plan.

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