The Field Institute takes a fresh – and optimistic – approach to agriculture. It is a research-led think tank, the brainchild of Ewan McEoin and Joel Fitzgerald, which explores sustainability in the food chain. It publishes books, puts on exhibitions and workshops and runs consultancy programs.

The Field Institute also provides forums for debates and collects data which it hopes will influence policy in the future. “A big part of what we do at The Field Institute is look for ways to get people to step out of the bubble,” says exhibitions coordinator Allison Foggarty.

The “bubble” she’s referring to is the mindset of those who’ve already bought into the sustainability message. She sees this as a positive step. But to really make an impact, she believes the movement needs to become mainstream.

Funding is scarce and part of the way The Field Institute generates revenue is through its books, published by The Locavore Edition, that educate on how to eat locally and sustainably. It’s currently producing state-by-state guides for all of Australia.

It also charges for consultancy work. Recently it was commissioned by the City of Greater Dandenong to develop food strategies that will make the region one of Australia’s most innovative food communities. The hope is that these will influence policy in the future.

And, via its gallery space, The Field Institute seeks to engage with the public. Its first exhibition Zoom #3: “how might we feed our future city?” opens on July 2. Featuring more than 100 food-focused ideas, the show explores the Victorian food chain, from production to consumption.

Visitors are encouraged to give feedback via a survey. The data collected from this will inform The Field Institute’s research. The exhibition will evolve over time and as Foggarty explains, “The dream is for the gallery to become a hub for sustainability and innovation in agriculture.”

Zoom #3 launches with a welcome-all party on July 2 from 6.30pm to 9pm at The Field Institute, 15 Keele Street, Collingwood. The exhibition will continue throughout July and possibly later.

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