DIVRS supports a vision of local food systems which are secure, healthy, sustainable and fair. The Urban Food Program is the practical application of goals in home food growing, community gardening, urban food production and integrated approaches to planning urban food programs.

While Australia compared with other countries of the world is considered food secure, this is increasingly not the case among disadvantaged and low income groups. DIVRS’ Urban Food Program (UFP) focuses on projects and initiatives designed to address the challenges of food insecurity in Darebin.

Food security is determined by a community’s local food supply and their capacity and resources to access and use that food. Launched in August 2014, the UFP team is dedicated to making this connection across several key projects. These projects include The Darebin Fruit Squad, Backyard Basics, and Harvesting the Urban Orchard.

The Darebin Fruit Squad

The Darebin Fruit Squad (DFS) is a group of trained volunteers who harvest excess fruit from households in Darebin. Once collected, these otherwise wasted resources are made available to members of the community who struggle to access fresh, nutritious food. Several agencies aid in this, including DIVRS’ own Emergency Relief Foodstore - part of our Emergency Relief Program. 

In addition to the harvest and collection of fruit, DFS provides maintenance for residential fruit trees in order to promote continued production and supply. By sharing their skills and knowledge, our volunteers make the transaction stress-free for donors and foster ongoing relationships.

For more information or to register your fruit tree for donation, please visit the dedicated Darebin Fruit Squad Website

Dorothy Brain donated more than 90kg of plums.

Dorothy Brain donated more than 90kg of plums.

The Backyard Basics

The Backyard Basics is a DIVRS initiative run out of our own backyard in Preston. DIVRS has constructed and planted a garden of edibles to help alleviate some of the fresh food shortages that face the more vulnerable members in our community. 

This project produces freshly harvested food directly to the Emergency Relief service in a fresh food program each Monday.

Seedlings are propagated by volunteers and composting of food waste completes the cycle of food, with training available in each activity.  Facilitated by a Horticulturist and supported by volunteers, our team shares knowledge and teaches skills for easy and effective ways to grow food at home.

Backyard Photos supplied by B. Li, April 2016

The program was kickstarted with a Community Grant in 2014 from Darebin Council and has had contributions from the Inner North Community Foundation, the Scanlon Foundation and the Refuge of Hope.  Recently the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation and R E Ross Trust have made significant contributions to the development and capacity of the Urban Food Programme, we are grateful to all our supporters.

For more information on The Urban Food Program or any of its projects, please enquire. To volunteer, visit our Volunteer Resources page.