Yarrabilba Circular Food Economy

Yarrabilba in south east Queensland will become Australia's first 'sustainable food city' with digitally integrated urban agriculture and community composting systems.

In Partnership With:

Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Yarrabilba Circular Food Economy

The Challenge

How to design sustainable, healthy and prosperous communities for a growing population is a challenge faced across the world. There is less agricultural land available and people in urban centres are disassociated from food production. How can communities be designed to increase food security, minimise waste, build knowledge and skills, drive employment and enhance the natural environment? How can communities actively participate in the food economy of their region?

The Solution

Yarrabilba in South East Queensland will become Australia’s first  ‘sustainable food city’ as part of this Food Agility project led by QUT and  Lendlease. The project aims to develop a local food community based on circular  economy principles. This means that the community’s food and green waste is  collected and converted into compost. The compost can be used to support  community growing activities and small-scale food enterprises, putting seasonal,  local food into the heart of communities.

The first stage of the three year project involves the development of  a prototype community composting system that tracks compost contributions from businesses and residents and offers rewards in the form of 'green credits' that can be exchanged for local goods. Stage two involves establishing small-scale food production enterprises where goods and services can be exchanged via Smartphone technology. These new technologies and research outcomes will be embedded into Lendlease's development plans, which will see the population of Yarrabilba grow to 45,000 by 2041.


  • New, scalable model for urban agriculture that can be applied in other Australian towns and cities
  • Prototype digital community composting system with in-built sensors, dashboard and incentive system
  • Smartphone-enabled community credit/bartering system where people can exchange goods and services related to food
  • Community engagement program to build local skills and knowledge

How to get involved

Contact Food Agility.

meet the team

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Messner, R., Richards, C. and Johnson, H., 2020. The “Prevention Paradox”: food waste prevention and the quandary of systemic surplus production. Agriculture and Human Values, pp.1-13,

CarolRichards, Bree Hurst, Rudolf Messner, Grace O'Connor, The paradoxes of food waste reduction in the horticultural supply chain. Industrial MarketingManagement Volume 93, February 2021, Pages 482-491.

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