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 Housing Demands Swallowing Farms
 Posted: Mar 13 2018, 09:24 AM

Rana Capillum

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Sydney's housing demand is swallowing farms on the harbour city's fringes

By Philippa McDonald

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Photo: The amount of homegrown produce Sydney eats is set to plummet. (ABC News: Philippa McDonald)

Relentless urban sprawl in the harbour city is swallowing farms on the city's fringes so quickly produce from the Sydney Basin will be almost non-existent within 15 years.

Farms in the Sydney Basin currently produce 20 per cent of the city's food needs, however, researchers at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) are forecasting that number to fall sharply.

Laura Wynne, a senior research consultant at the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures, said the figure was expected to fall to 6 per cent by 2031.

"At the moment the future looks dire in terms of food production in the Sydney Basin if changes aren't made," Ms Wynne said.

Sydney's population is set grow by 1.6 million people in the 20 years between 2014 and 2034.

Of that, 900,000 people will settle in the city's western suburbs.

Ms Wynne warned of the downside of "paving over the land".

"A lot of the concern is around the liveability of our cities, clean air and water, the cooling effect and also supporting biodiversity," Ms Wynne said.

The most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures revealed western Sydney population increased by more than 770,000 people in the decade to 2016.

And the harbour city is in the midst of its largest ever housing construction boom, with the New South Wales Government focussing on housing supply as a means of combating affordability issues.

The Department of Planning and Environment's latest figures predict almost 200,000 new homes will be built in greater Sydney in the next five years.

That number represents a 46 per cent increase on the previous five years, when 134,700 new homes were constructed.

Photo: Christina Kelman ®, and her father George may consider selling their Wallacia farm in the future. (ABC News: Philippa McDonald)

Western Sydney farmer George Kelman, 77, has seen the area change.

"There were farms everywhere you know; now it's full of houses," he said.

"There'll be a lot development here in the next few years. It will like driving through the eastern suburbs."

The Kelman family's horticulture business supplies farmers markets in Sydney.

"When you go to the markets you can see it — the amount of farmers that are at the market versus the agents from interstate — it's getting less," Mr Kelman's daughter Christina said.

The family have two farms, one in Kemps Creek and the other in Wallacia, and a warehouse not far from Sydney's planned second airport at Badgerys Creek, which is set to open in 2026.

Demand for land in that area has soared and the Kelmans said they would consider selling their Kemps Creek farm in the future.

The Department of Primary Industries' (DPI) most recent Status of Sydney's Agriculture report estimated in 2016 there were approximately 2210 farms in greater Sydney, employing 7000 people over 125,000 hectares of land.

The DPI estimated the value of its food production to be $780 million a year, with poultry and vegetables major contributors.

This appears to be a problem facing our major cities. Growth in infrastructure hasn't kept pace with population expansion so we are faced with congested roads, inadequate public transport and health and education systems that are under stress. Affordability in housing has led to governments focussing on housing supply without considering the consequences.

Australia is not a third world country relying on cheap, overseas food sources. We have the capacity to feed our population and still provide enough to export to other countries.

Sadly we focus on the major agricultural areas such as beef, wheat and sheep while growing grapes for wine production is seen as more profitable (and trendy) than fruit and vegetables.

When my family arrived in Perth in the '50s, the city was surrounded by market gardens and orchards. Most of these have disappeared under urban sprawl.

The solution is somewhat compex. If we are to accept the need for affordable housing in and around ourt major cities, we need to look for alternative farming venues for food production. The answer may well lie in channeling resources into the rural sector to encourage our growing population to "escape to the country". The trend of urbanisation that has dominated our population needs to be reversed. Many small country towns have the resources (land and water) to become food bowls. By boosting the infrastructure in such areas, families might be, once again, attracted to a rural lifestyle.

"Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself." - Tecumseh (March 1768 – October 5, 1813) Shawnee Chief
 Posted: Mar 13 2018, 04:11 PM

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Just speaking of the Wide Bay Burnett region which I have always lived in, a lot of the fruit (citrus) is exported as there is too much for local demand. Small crops are grown in abundance around here, mainly things like sweet spuds, zucchini, tomatoes, capsicum. Small crops have always been up and down, either a glut or shortage so the price is always up and down which makes them risky. This is why some lock into contracts with the likes of the greedy Woolies.

Overall production of fruit and veg is growing here, mainly at the expense of sugar. Macadamia's are also popular and expanding in area here.

Everybody is Willing:
Some are willing to work, the rest are willing to let them!

The older I get, the better I was.
 Posted: Mar 13 2018, 05:32 PM


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"Growth in infrastructure hasn't kept pace with population expansion so we are faced with congested roads, inadequate public transport and health and education systems that are under stress. Affordability in housing has led to governments focussing on housing supply without considering the consequences."

I wish all those in Canberra could see things as clearly as you Charles.

All we hear is growth (in regards to our population) with NO thought to the issues you have raised Charles.

Now one of those who pushed us to grow our population (Bob Carr) is now telling us that; "Australia's immigration rate should be cut in half".

Q&A: Australia's immigration rate should be cut in half, Bob Carr says.

Former foreign affairs minister says the benefits of immigration could be preserved but effects managed by slowing down rate.

The former foreign affairs minister Bob Carr has called for Australia to cut its immigration rate in half, declaring that the country’s experiment of running the fastest rate of immigration in the world was an experiment that was failing.

Sadly both TB and Billy haven't got a clue.

Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and all for the same reason.

~José Maria de Eça de Queiroz,

We live in a world in which politics has replaced philosophy. ~Martin L. Gross, A Call for Revolution, 1993

"Stupid people are like glow sticks: I wanna snap em and shake the shit outta them till the light comes on."
 Posted: Mar 14 2018, 12:46 PM


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The whole situation is an imbalance and the solution is simple if we had competent leaders and a removal of the UN interference in our country.

British, European and other Western countries have an abundance of working-class people with trade skills, other skills, talent, abilities and good education which has seen their countries' prosper over many hundreds of years.

An enormous amount of those people would flock to Australia by a simple method if the current Canberra Red Tape was removed.
The argument for our -lost- manufacturing is the affordability of cheap, sub-standard products made in Asia.

That way of thinking is the opposite of common sense, and the words of John Ruskin still hold true today

If manufacturing was still in operation today using the skills of Australians and the above-mentioned migrants, the balance would return, and in the case of wages versus commodities and product costs is, if if they were tied together and a continuous balance were up-held we could become an independant country because we do not need any imports of any kind to be independant of un-fair international trading schemes, 'give-give-give our all' across the world and receive nothing in return.

When you can't make then see the light make them feel the heat.
Henry Ford

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has it's limits
Albert Einstein
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