Sustainable food

Take part in a more resilient food future with the Darebin Food Harvest Network.

There is a growing interest in creating local food systems which respect the limits of natural resources and improve the health and wellbeing of communities. Local Food Systems can also help improve food security by increasing the availability of and access to diverse food options.

We have a range of festivals, events and resources that encourage our residents to make healthy and sustainable food choices.

Olives to Oil Harvest Festival 2023

Darebin, Merri-bek and Yarra Councils are partnering with CERES 3000acres for the second year in a row to run the Olives to Oil Harvest Festival in May 2023. The event brings people together from across Melbourne to harvest olives and have them pressed communally into delicious, local olive oil, which is distributed back to the people who help with the harvest.

In 2022, 3.5 tonnes of olives were harvested in total with 500 litres of olive oil being produced. Over 162 Darebin residents participated in the event, and lots of positive feedback was received:

“From picking to drop off of freshly picked olives to collection of 3.5 litres of delicious oil shortly later what a wonderful celebration of community!” – 2022 participant

“O2O gave me an excuse to talk to my neighbours, to encourage others to participate in the pressing, and we met up with friends on the weigh in day!” – 2022 participant

How does it work?

  • Harvest your olives over the weekend of Friday 19 to Sunday 21 May (Don't harvest before 19 May or it might spoil the oil)
  • Drop off your olive harvest on Sunday 21 May to the drop off point closest to you:
    • CERES Fair Food, Preston 12-3pm (drop off only and speak to our Climate Emergency team about food and garden waste recycling and our sustainable food programs)
    • CERES Environment Park, Brunswick East 12-4pm (drop off and an Olive Festival with music, food, olive pruning, demonstrations of the mini olive press and more!)
  • The olives are taken to Barfold Olives to be pressed and bottled
  • Collect your olive oil from Reservoir Library 2 weeks later

How much does it cost?

  • Tickets are free for Darebin, Merri-bek and Yarra residents - or $15 for residents of other Council areas.
  • There is a surcharge of $5 for drops off over 50kg of olives.

What are the benefits?

  • contributing to local sustainable food systems
  • reducing food waste by turning fruit that might otherwise go unharvested into a delicious product
  • protecting local food production by reducing host fruit of Queensland Fruit Fly
  • increase social connection and sense of community by meeting your neighbours and participating in group harvesting

Don't have your own olives?

More resources

Read our Olives to Oil Frequently Asked Questions which is also translated into Greek and Italian.

Where do I sign up?

Use the button below to register. You will also get reminders and instructions about how to participate.

Register for Olives to Oil Harvest Festival 2023

Sustainable Food Leaders Forum

We host regular the Sustainable Food Leaders Forum annually, which is open to anyone in the Darebin community involved in or interested in sustainable food initiatives or improving food security.

The purpose of the Forum is to bring together local organisations and individuals to discuss and promote sustainable food systems in the Darebin area.

The forum serves as a platform for the exchange of ideas, information and resources, and to provide opportunities for collaboration and action towards a more sustainable food future.

To find out when the next Forum is or to keep up to date with the latest Sustainable Food news and events, visit the Darebin Food Harvest Network website.

Backyard Harvest Stories

In 2020 we launched a new online food growing and sharing project, Backyard Harvest Stories, to encourage social connection and engagement online through the world of food gardening during the pandemic.

Backyard Harvest Stories has now come to an end. A great big thank you to all our backyard gardeners who tagged and shared stories of their backyard food growing adventures. We saw hundreds of gardening photos, videos, chicken selfies and garden tours, which captured and celebrated Darebin’s fantastic food growing culture for all to see. Two lucky gardeners won fantastic prizes.

Even though the main part of the project is over, we’d still love you to continue sharing photos of your backyard harvest using our hashtag #darebinbackyardharvest to inspire and connect with other local growers!

Through Backyard Harvest Stories we grew a fantastic collection of gardening tutorials from local food gardeners and experts:

Darebin Backyard Harvest YouTube Playlist

Keeping chickens

Backyard chicken keeping is a great way to get a regular source of organic, happy eggs - plus chickens can make great pets!

We have to great resources about chicken keeping:

Keeping Healthy Happy Chooks with Jessamy Miller video

Backyard chooks and lead contamination

Recent studies have found high levels of lead in backyard chickens and eggs in our biggest cities - and Darebin was flagged to be a higher risk. Older homes can contain lead contamination from historical use of lead-based pains, leaded petrol and lead pipes. Lead gets into the hens as they scratch in the dirt and peck food from the ground. If you are a backyard chicken keeper, there are actions you can take to keep yourself and your chooks safe:

  • Get your soil tested - check out Macquarie University’s VegeSafe program
  • Areas of soil identified as a problem can be replaced and/or chickens kept to areas of known clean soil
  • Purchase free-range organic, pastured or regeneratively produced eggs if you can't safely keep chickens on your property