Best Practice Farming

With Daphne, Robert Teng and Terry HaFred and Cheryl

(Photos: Top – Robert Teng and Terry Ha; Bottom:  Fred Haskins and Sheryl Jarezcki)

Backyard digging – Broadcast ABC Radio National 13 July 2013

There are around two thousand small scale farms dotted around the Sydney Basin. They grow much of Sydney’s leafy vegetables, and nationally, are a major source of Asian Greens. Market gardens have long been attractive work for new-migrants and their families. But is there sufficient support for growers from non-English speaking backgrounds trying to make sense of regulations written for rural farms? And who is monitoring pesticide use for growers’ health, for residue levels on produce, and run-off into our rivers?

Jessica Minshall takes Off Track to the Chinese Heritage Market Gardens in Botany.

Guests

Terry Ha
Chinese Growers’ Association of NSW
Daphne Lowe Kelly
Chinese Heritage Association
Sheryl Jarezcki
Social researcher and environmental educator
Fred Haskins
NSW Farmers
Giselle Howard
Director, Metropolitan, NSW Environmental Protection Authority
Dr Ben Kefford
Fresh water ecologist, School of Environment, University of Technology, Sydney
Dr Jeremy Walker
Social Researcher, University of Technology, Sydney

Credits PresenterJoel Werner  Reporter Jessica Minshall

Agriculture in Sydney – death by a thousand cuts

fred

Agriculture on the outer fringes of Australia’s major cities is dying a slow death.    ABC Radio, 

By Angela Laviopierre, 

Monday, 15 April  201

(pictured:  Fred Haskins, NSW Farmers Association and supporter of the Market Gardens)

Experts say it’s an inevitable end, unless there are drastic changes to Government policy.

Some in the area describe it as heartbreaking- but for others, the sudden leap in the value of their land offers a pension worth several million dollars.

Fred Haskins has grown vegetables at Kellyville, on Sydney’s north-west fringes for 15 years, but he’ll move on within 12 months, now that the owner has decided to sell the land.

The area was rezoned for development around three years ago, and the change has arrived Fred Haskin’s doorstep, with the land across the road being cleared for development.

He says his farms is one of the last remaining on his street.

“We’ve got one rose nursery left, on hydroponic, which is about to go, two flower growers, then another flower grower up the road and then a Chinese farm and then myself… It’s heart breaking.

At the other end of the spectrum is lettuce farmer Frank Agess, who lives two doors down from Fred Haskins.

He plans to sell his land and retire, and is only waiting for the right offer.

“Well people, they gotta live somewhere and they chose this place to live. Why not? Let them be. That’s the way I see it.

“I’m still a bit young, I’ll move somewhere else. It’s not big deal to me.”

Fred Haskins is an executive with the NSW Farmers Association.

He says the region represents some of the Sydney Basin’s best agricultural land, but the skyrocketing land value has sped up the process.

“The property that I lease was 11 acres and that was purchased in 1980 for $270 000. It’s probably worth about $800 000 an acre now. The going price is about $4.5 million for 5 acres, providing it’s clean.”

For those who can resist the financial temptation to sell up, there are still more barriers to staying on the land.

The executive Director of the Australian Farm Institute, Mick Keogh, says once development begins, there’s an inevitable clash between the rural and residential.

“When it comes to moving stock at particular times of the day or spraying or operating machinery, the neighbours complain. When it comes to things like dogs getting loose, you get all sorts of those problems as well.”

He says it’s unlikely that Australia’s urban sprawl will be halted any time soon.

“It has to be a deliberate decision of government because the alternative is what we’re seeing. And we see it in every state, it’s not just in Sydney, is what you might call agriculture’s death by a thousand cuts.”

 

Southern Sydney Cemeteries Trust

The trusts established to manage the Crown cemeteries in southern metropolitan Sydney have been dissolved and amalgamated to form the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT). The Botany Cemetery and Crematorium, known as the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park, and the Woronora Cemetery are now managed by the SMCT.

The Trust board to manage the SMCT was gazetted on 18 January 2013.

The Board Chair is Anthony Simpson

and the Board members are:
Anthony Lee  Anthony Lee
Paul Rappoport  pr
Ivona Kadlec  Ivona Kadlec, Aviation Australia GM

Michael McMahon  mm
Les Bursill  
Elizabeth Fitzsimmons:EF is the only member from the former Trust.

Grow your own food to protect city from disaster, Sydneysiders urged

Grow your own food to protect city from disaster, Sydneysiders urged, Sydney Morning Herald, James Robertson, 17 November 2012

Sally Hill who is one of the founders of the Youth Food Movement. She is highly articulate on the global food crisis, sustainability and other food issues.

Turning back the clock … Sally Hill wants urban dwellers to to think carefully about how food is produced and where it comes from. Photo: Tamara Dean

SYDNEY’S fresh food would only last two or three days if a cataclysmic disaster struck, experts say. Continue reading

Burying the truth of death under the bland and the ugly – Elizabeth Farrelly

Burying the truth of death under the bland and the ugly – Elizabeth Farrelly,        SMH 25 October 2012

<em>Illustration: Edd Aragon</em>Illustration: Edd Aragon

And they’re greedy. In death as in life, they sprawl. Sydney ”will run out of burial space by 2035,” Alan Jones insisted as he lobbied the airwaves for Botany Cemetery’s right to grab a further 60 per cent of the adjoining market garden where brothers Gordon and Terry Ha grow their coriander and bok choy. But why prioritise the dead over the living? Bad enough for housing to sprawl over food security, but graves? Hello? Jones berates the gardeners for taking water from the aquifer, but seems fine with bodies leaching into it. What’s wrong with doubling up? Stacking? Churning? Densification? What about recycling? Crop rotation? If graves must have food-land, why shouldn’t food have old grave land? Natural burial, where people are buried coffinless to encourage bio-degradation, sometimes with a seedling in their mouth, is impossible in most Australian cemeteries.

I’m coming round to Halloween. Continue reading

Reply from Renata Brooks Deputy Director General, Lands

Letter from Renata Brooks

Key points:

1. Botany and Woronora Cemetery Trusts have been dissolved and their cemeteries are now managed by the new Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust.  This Trust, in consultation with Government and the proposed NSW Cemeteries and Crematoria Board, will need to consider its options and if it wishes to continue to pursue the proposal.

This is a reminder of the support that Lands has previously given the Trust:

2.   To deal with the looming shortage of burial space, the Minister has approved a schedule of land in the greater Sydney region that should be examined for future cemeteries.  The market gardens site is part of this schedule.  This work will continue under the auspices of the NSW Cemetery and Crematoria Board and in consultation with the relevant government authorities.  In relation to the market gardens site, the Minister has also asked the NSW Farmers’ Association to provide input for consideration by Government.

 

3.  A CMP, if required, would be entirely funded by the responsible Trust and assessed by the NSW Heritage Council.  However, it should be noted that Randwick Council was funded to prepare a CMP when the market gardens were first listed and failed to do so.

 

4.  Regrettably, the information you requested in relation to comparisons of rental rates is not readily to hand.  However, licensees are required to manage the land consistent with the provisions of the Heritage listing, in compliance with the Work Health and Safety legislation, and with appropriate environmental management safeguards.  All these factors contribute to the rental charged.

 

5.  In the Sydney basin, the Crown lands database indicates that there are only five sites for agriculture purposes leased or licensed, covering about 20ha (excluding the market gardens) and numerous grazing occupancies.  Clearly the role of Crown land in food production within Sydney is not significant.  

 

MAYBE IT SHOULD BECOME SIGNIFICANT.  JUST AS CROWN LAND USED FOR OTHER PURPOSES HAS BEEN ASSESSED FOR CEMETERY USE, PERHAPS THERE NEEDS TO BE AN ASSESSMENT FOR FOOD PRODUCTION PURPOSES (AS SUGGESTED IN EMAIL BELOW)

 

Finally, the Minister has asked me to thank you on her behalf for your invitation to visit the Market Gardens site.  The Minister appreciates your offer, but has advised that in late 2011 her senior advisers visited the site and provided her with a comprehensive briefing to inform her understanding of the issues and challenges at hand.

 

Again the contact for further information is John Filocamo

 

THIS WAS THE CORRESPONDENCE SENT:
Dear Minister Hodgkinson,

 

copied Chairs of Matraville and La Perouse Precincts, Mayor of Randwick, South Ward Email list, Councillors Bowen, Belleli, Tracey, White, Woodsmith, Matson, Hughes, Seng,

 

I have contacted your office on many occasions about the La Perouse Market Gardens. When I have received replies the contact quoted on most occasions has been Mr John Filocamo, Metropolitan Stakeholder Relations Specialist –South Region – Crown Lands Catchments and Lands. In conversations with Mr Filocamo I have formed the impression that he supports the takeover of the Gardens by the Botany Cemetery Trust.  Continue reading

Supporters win in Randwick Council Elections

Over the past 4 years Labour and Liberal Councillors in South Ward have supported the Market Gardens and the Independent, Charles Matthews, has supported the Cemetery Trust.  At yesterday’s Randwick Council elections Liberal Councillor Robert Belleli was returned with an increased vote. The retiring Labour Councillor, Alan White, was replaced by Labour’s Noel D’Souza and Labour’s Pat Garcia, claimed the position held by Charles Matthews.

Robert Belleli:  Liberal

Cr Robert Belleli

Telephone: 02 9314 3961, Mobile: 0407 466 174, Email:robert.belleli@randwick.nsw.gov.au

Statement on Market Gardens:  11/7/12 in Southern Courier

I don’t support any expansion of the cemetery. I think we need to protect the Chinese Market Gardens. I supported the rural zoning of the market gardens and will always do so. I understand we’re running out of cemetery space but the heritage of the market gardens is important. The need for sustainable food sources in the Sydney basin is critical. My view about the proposed cemetery expansion is different to some of my other Liberal colleagues. The great thing about the Liberal Party is we’re allowed to disagree with each other. Everyone has the right to their own opinion. But my opinion is clear – the market gardens are too important and should be protected.

Noel D’Souza:  Labour

Noel D'Souza - Randwick Labor Feel free to contact me at noel@randwicklabor.org if you have any questions regarding South Ward.

Statement on Market Gardens:  11/7/12 in Southern Courier

 This is little more then a cheap land grab by the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park at the expense of the locals. What about the local ratepayers, do our opinions not matter? To the best of my knowledge the O’Farrell Government is poised later in the year to reverse the council’s decision. My view on this important issue is the same as expressed by my Labor colleagues in council that the land that has been zoned rural, must stay zoned rural. The Chinese Gardens at La Perouse must be saved. We need the Mayor Scott Nash to reassure the residents of the South Ward that Randwick Council’s decision on this matter is final and that the O’Farrell Government will respect people’s wishes and not cave in and reverse council’s decision.

Pat Garcia: Labour

Pat Garcia - Randwick Labor

 

Market gardens face deadly competition

SEPTEMBER 02, 2012 12:00AM, The Sunday Telegraph, ELIZABETH MERYMENT

 Chinese garden farmers

Suburban farmers Gordon Ha and Robert Teng with the cemetery behind them and in their Matraville market garden on Friday. They fear losing their traditional livelihood. Picture: Sam Ruttyn Source:The Daily Telegraph

GORDON Ha’s family has worked the La Perouse Chinese market garden for more than 70 years, but the farmer fears his tenure will be up after next week’s council elections.

Working one of three heritage-listed plots on the site, Ha has his livelihood is under threat because the operators of neighbouring Botany Cemetery want to expand on to the land.

In July, Randwick City Council voted 8-6 to rezone the 7ha to “rural” to protect it from the cemetery.

But Chinese-Australian Forum president Patrick Voon said three of the garden’s eight supporters were retiring at next Saturday’s council election, with no guarantees from incoming candidates for continued support.

“This is such an historic site – even when the First Fleet sailed into here they drew fresh water from the area,” Mr Voon said. “The site has been worked as a market garden for generations: the first evidence we have of Chinese farmers in the area goes to 1909.”

Randwick Mayor Scott Nash agreed the situation was volatile for the two remaining farmers who work the plots, with a possibility the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park Trust, which runs the cemetery, would try again to claim the plot after the election.

Cr Nash said he supported the cemetery’s expansion because extra plots were required for the area.

“There is tension in the area (about this),” Cr Nash said.

“The tension is because the Christian Orthodox, including the Greek Orthodox, the Muslim and and Jewish faiths in the area, and Aboriginal groups, do not believe in cremation.”