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Churchill Fellows Speak: A community-led transformation of Australia's food system

Parliament House, Parliament Dr, Canberra, ACT 2600
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The Churchill Trust of Australia was established in 1965 to support Australians realise their dreams of a better and fairer future for this country. In recent years the Trust has funded several Fellows to investigate important dimensions of community-led food system change, which has been underway for several decades overseas. The goal: to super-charge the process of building a path to a better and fairer food future.

This event in the nation's capital will feature four Churchill Fellows whose passion is urban agriculture: three just back from their travels to North America and Europe, and one who made the trip in 2014.

Naomi Lacey

Naomi is a permaculturalist who is passionate about promoting healthy food systems, sustainable lifestyles and cultivating community. She helped to establish the first community garden in the satellite city of Palmerston near Darwin and from there became involved with Community Gardens Australia (CGA) in 2015 then taking on the role of President in 2019. Naomi believes that community gardens have a pivotal role to play in ensuring better health outcomes for Australians, building community, addressing the climate crisis, reducing waste and educating people.

Awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2019 to learn from community garden networks around the world, Naomi’s vision for CGA is to build the organisation into one that supports the growth and needs of community gardens around Australia, providing them with education, support, resources and sustenance to continue their work and therefore their positive impact on the communities they reside in.

Gavin Hardy

Gavin is the Queensland coordinator of the national community gardens network, Community Gardens Australia. He is a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship recipient with a focus on community based agroforestry models. Gav is also a multi-award winning landscape architect and engineer with over 25 years experience planning, designing and building numerous sustainable landscapes and food systems in Australia. He has a passion for gardening, permaculture, sustainability education and mentoring.

Fiona Buining

Fiona Louise Buining is passionate about growing plants, especially food plants, and is inspired to create pathways for future food growers in urban areas. She has grown vegetables wherever she has lived. Working with teenagers as a teacher she has seen first-hand the physical and mental health benefits of learning to grow food. As a grower she has observed an unmet demand for locally grown fresh food. Her question was: how do you become an urban grower in Australia?

Fiona was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2020 to investigate urban farm ventures that provide vocational pathways for aspiring food growers. Fiona believes that growing good food is one of the most positive actions people can do for their own health and to heal the planet. Fiona majored in plant ecology and physiology at Macquarie University graduating with First Class Honours. She completed the first Permaculture Design Course taught by David Holmgren in the 1990’s and later taught residential Permaculture Design Courses with David for 7 years.

Fiona and her husband, Michael, have used permaculture principles to design two of their own properties – their one acre in Hepburn Springs and their quarter acre in Ainslie. Their property in Hepburn Springs gained recognition and set a legal precedent as it was the first property in a sewered area to install an approved composting toilet and grey water system. Fiona managed the Merici College Kitchen Garden from 2012-2019, a teaching garden that grows seasonal vegetables using organic growing methods to supply the school canteen and restaurant. Her work was recognised when Merici won the ACT Keep Australia Beautiful Sustainable Cities Award in 2012 and the ACTsmart Schools Sustainable School of the Year in 2019.

Fiona runs Ainslie Urban Farm where she grows microgreens, in greenhouses in her backyard in Ainslie, for local restaurants and cafes. Since Covid19 Fiona has also been growing and selling seasonal vegetable seedlings suited to Canberra's conditions. Fiona’s property has over 50 fruit trees, nuts, berries, vegetables, two beehives, chickens and working rabbits.

Nick Rose

Dr Nick Rose is a Sustain’s Executive Director and a leading thinker in food system governance and urban agriculture with more than 15 years' experience in the fields of sustainable food systems and local food economies. He holds a PhD in Political Ecology from RMIT University (2013), a Master of International and Community Development (2006, Deakin University) and a Bachelor of Laws (1989, Melbourne University). In 2014, he completed a Churchill Fellowship investigating innovative models of urban agriculture in Canada, the United States and Argentina. Nick is a Partner Investigator on an Australian Research Council Discovery Project, “Strengthening Food Systems Governance at the Local Level” (2019-2022). He coordinates Sustain’s biannual Urban Agriculture Forum and its annual Urban Agriculture Month. He has published extensively on urban agriculture, local food economies and food system governance both academically and in the public domain.

More information:

For more information or to register to attend, visit

Or contact Nick Rose