At some during the first phase of the Armidale Climate and Health Project we noticed that food systems were coming to the fore as central to the problem we were trying to address with this project. The global agrifood system (which incorporates agriculture, distribution, retail, consumption and waste management) is a central driver of climate change. The proliferation of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes are related to food. Indigenous dispossession in the New England and the breakdown of connection with Country was facilitated by land enclosure and the farming of sheep and cattle.
Most of the events linked to the ACHP have been food related or have included food: Open Day included a free feed, Unearthing Armidale’s Diverse Food Economy focus groups, the Home Grown Garden Tour, the short film festival “Food, Films and Feelings“, the Community Dinners Project and the Armidale Food School.
The question of how and precisely adapt the food system to respond to climate change and improve human health is a massive one and has many responses. For instance, there are many pressure points and possible adaptations that exist at a major infrastructural level (e.g. winding back monocultural agriculture and introducing regenerative farming techniques; shortening/greening supply chains; reducing both plastic/packaging and food waste). But these might need to happen in relation to the business choices of individual farmers, or the decisions of freight and logistics infrastructure designers.
The ACHP is grounded in Armidale and so we are specifically interested in exploring ways we can diversify Armidale’s food economy and build new small-scale infrastructure to help support the community to change its food practices. We build on “social practice theory” (Shove et. al., The Dynamics of Social Practice, 2012) which argues that individual habit change is not just a question of a single person’s tenacity and motivation, but that is best supported by infrastructural networks that support those practices. There are several kinds of initatives that exist in the world that could serve this purpose in relation to our objectives, and we’re in a process of researching and discussing with community stakeholders what the best one of these might be… stay tuned to this blog for updates!