The Garden of Villages – a new approach to Regional Development in Peri Urban Areas

Tomato (Tamatar)Garden of Villages™ is an integrated system that delivers sustainable regional development. It is a leading innovative and wholistic approach to tackling the issues of food and water security – a paradigm shift in the way that village and farm development is integrated, facilitated by new funding structures, advanced training programs, and the application of clean technologies to farming methods.

We take the seeds of the world’s best master planned sustainable cities and cross them with our experience in rural towns, and with developing and operating intensive sustainable farms. The resulting vigorous hybrid is the Garden of Villages™. Integration of food, living centres, energy production, industry, water capture and recycling establishes new paradigms. Garden of Villages™ has been designed to transition regional and rural areas close to growing cities into vibrant, secure food growing, processing and distribution centres.

These village scaled “food baskets” protect and enhance land of high agricultural value, produce high quality clean fresh food, catch rainfall and reuse water after appropriate treatment, generate energy from solar and gas sources, are hubs for light food processing and preparation of food for market that minimises waste in rapidly growing cities, and provide quality employment in regions. We are building our first Garden of Villages™ in the Mary Valley, Queensland. We have support of universities and we are identifying master farmers and supporting technology businesses to participate.

The project has earned recognition and support of local, state and federal government. Over time we will help create a global network of sustainable productive family based farms and villages producing and securing food, water, energy and homes for millions while managing waste efficiently and effectively.

Dr Julian Bolleter, Assistant Professor, Australian Urban Design Research Centre will speak at the Making Cities Liveable Conference, 17th – 19th June 2013 at Novotel Melbourne St Kilda


Healthy Cities Conference to examine “Creating Regional Cities – harnessing social capital”

In 2007 Jeffrey Bridge wrote the following article… how much progress we have made?

Over the past decade, environmental sustainability has emerged as a prominent theme in the community development literature. In fact, the concept has become a standard feature of most economic and social development plans. Most models of sustainable community development stress the importance of widespread participation in the decision-making process.

Unfortunately, community studies document numerous barriers to broad involvement and the high level of activeness envisioned by proponents of sustainable community development. In searching for ways to overcome these barriers, scholars and policymakers have embraced the idea that we can enhance efforts to create more sustainable communities by increasing the local stock of social capital. We examine this line of reasoning in light of what we view as the most important conceptual issues surrounding the relationship between social capital and sustainable community development.

We conclude that before social capital is endorsed as a central component of public policy, much work remains to be done in terms of developing a more precise definition of the concept, situating it within extant theories of community, constructing better measures of social capital, documenting the activities and networks most important in building social capital, and gaining a better understanding of the forms of social capital that are most important in developing sustainable communities.

You can download the full paper here

The 5th Healthy Cities: Working Together to Achieve Liveable Cities Conference

June 6-8 2012 Geeelog, Victoria, Australia

Sustainable Cities for All

EPA Sustainability

Many models of social sustainability have been proposed in the previous few decades, with the majority of these recognising a co-dependent interaction between three basic elements. These are generally recognised as community/social, environmental and economic. The interaction of these elements impacts on issues of equity, diversity, interconnectedness and acceptance; and there is widespread recognition that healthy communities are communities that accept and foster these ideals.

Of course addressing social sustainability in a meaningful way extends far beyond that of the built environment and requires a strong commitment from government, policy-makers and the greater community itself and has far greater public health connotations. However, it is important for us, as professionals within the property and construction sector, to be mindful of these models and ideas. People residing in urban environments spend up to 90% of their time contained by the built environment; so our influence and contribution to this environment, and consequently the effect on our interactions with and within it, is very significant.

read the full story here
Healthy Cities Conference 2012 – June 6-8 Geelong
The 5th Healthy Cities: Working Together to Achieve Liveable Cities Conference will be a platform for Government and Industry sector professionals to discuss causes, effects and solutions that relate to population health, sustainability, natural resource management, transport, climate change, urban design and more.

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2011 Healthy Cities Conference a Success

This year’s Healthy Cities Conference in Noosa had over 70 presenters, who contributed to a range of session streams including,

– Physical Environments in our Cities and Neighbourhoods
– Green Principles – Green Design. The Future of Viable Healthy Cities
– Healthy People – Healthy Places
– Disaster Management – The Impacts on Population Health

During the closing forum delegates were asked to raise, with a panel of keynotes the major issues affecting healthy cities.  The 2012 Conference in Geelong will follow up some of the excellent contributions by the delegates in the forum.

Robert Prestipino the Directoror Vital Places spoke about “Local Ecommerce and Sustainable Towns – Will our Regional towns and communities be saved by digital highways?

Robert said “The evidence is clear. Regional identity and lifestyle is in decline. This decline has been long term and gradual. The issue is what are we going to do about it? Decades of concern and initiatives have done little to strengthen the future prosperity of regional communities. To turn things around and deliver the community’s aspirations for the future of their children and grandchildren will clearly require a new approach.”

He discussed how we create great regions to live, work and play… places of opportunity & lifestyle?

Matt Coetzee the Development Manager of Community Development with Aurecon discussed Australia’s sequence of extreme weather events. Cyclone Yasi and the floods of December 2010 / January 2011 saw more than 75% of Queensland officially declared a disaster zone. The impact on infrastructure and homes was devastating but the scale of the tragedy became that much more apparent as news of human fatalities was relayed by Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh.

Matt said “Sustainable urban development is a useful concept in considering opportunities to alleviate the impact of extreme weather events, and extreme floods in particular. Sustainable urban development provides a framework focused on creating urban communities where both the current and future needs of residents are met. There are two important principles—resilience and connectivity—that underpin sustainable urban development.

By defining the risks associated with potential extreme events and translating those risks into planning and design solutions urban planners attempt to increase an urban feature’s capacity to absorb change. This capacity, otherwise known as its resilience, allows it to persist in the face of the change and thereby improves its sustainability”.

The positive delegate feedback was overwhelming. Lisa Wood, Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Centre for the Built Environment and Health, School of Population Health said “A good mix of speakers, topics and participants overall. Indeed the diversity of participants greatly contributed to the informal sharing and learning that went on outside of sessions and it was good to see the intermingling of varied sectors and fields.”

The 2012 Conference will be in Geelong, Victoria from the 6th – 8th June 2012. Call for papers will open on the conference website soon,

Delivering Sustainable Communities

Discussion of the sustainability of urban development often focuses on the individual building. While the performance of individual buildings is undoubtedly vital to achieving greater efficiency in energy and water use, it is also important to consider the broader context in which these buildings sit and how they are used.

Despite sustainability at the building scale gaining greater acceptance, sustainable precincts or neighbourhoods are still largely non-existent in the Australian context. Our current building and planning regulatory environment fails to adequately require the consideration of sustainability in urban development, and the development industry appears largely intent on continuing the traditional model of greenfield, low density, car based development.

However a greater focus on how communities function, and the impact urban development can have on this, has huge potential in energy, transport, waste and water efficiency, as well as addressing social issues of isolation, access to essential services and support and community resilience. In addition to this, a strong business case is also building for why private developers should take a lead role in this.

This presentation will explore how viable precinct development can work to address both environmental and social issues, discussing a number of leading European examples as well as local initiatives. It will also explore business model innovations and delivery strategies that have the potential to increase the uptake of sustainable precinct projects across Australia.

Peter Steele, Coordinator – Urban Development, Moreland Energy Foundation

Healthy Cities: 4th Making Cities Liveable Conference
Wednesday 27th to Friday 29th July 2011
The Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort & Spa NOOSA, Queensland

“Sustainable Growth ???”

Is there such a process as “sustainable growth”? The term appears frequently in government reports and in company strategic plans. “Sustainable growth” holds out the tantalising prospect that a society can achieve the holy grail of sustainability – the modern term for alignment with environmental imperatives – without forgoing the benefits of economic expansion. These benefits include rising standards of living, full employment, increasing opportunities for investment or professional development – and generally rising wealth for all. 

 “Sustainability” implies a steady-state condition, not one built upon expansion or increasing throughput of material resources, but if it is based upon utilisation of renewable resources, then the steady-state condition may be satisfied. “Growth” is commonly used as a shorthand term for “economic growth” which relies upon geometrically expanding extraction and throughput of material resources, which is unsustainable in a finite planet, but there are forms of community advancement other than “growth” in this material sense.

We need to address related questions such as: Is there any way of decoupling a rise in living standards from throughput of biophysical resources? Is it possible to have rising real wealth other than by accumulating more physical goods which means more demands upon the earth’s resources? Is it possible to slow down economic expansion without risking plunging the economy into recession? The paper is particularly relevant to healthy cities because most expositions of what “healthy” means include an economic dimension. Is there such a thing as a healthy economy other than one that is actively expanding and so placing growing demands upon the resources of the biophysical environment?

Dr Geoff Edwards, Adjunct Research Fellow, Centre for Governance and Public Policy

4th Healthy Cities: Making Cities Liveable Conference. The Outrigger Resort and Spa,  Little Hastings St, Noosa – 27-29 July 2011

Green designs – How do you make your Green building GREEN?

Due to the increased urban density there is a definite demand in the current built environment to incorporate more positive urban design and increased green space into smaller areas. Greenwalls and Greenroofs are being incorporated into more and more buildings throughout Australia, but how do we reach the full potential of the environmental benefits that can be achieved from this technology?

 Join Jonathon Grealy from PlantUP  at the 4th Healthy Cities: Making Cities Liveable Conference for an interesting look at the secrets of a successful Greenwall and learn what designers can do to make them more than just a bit of side dressing.