City-fringe farms crucial for food security

Posted on 14. Sep, 2012 by in Events, Upcoming SFFA Events

Safeguarding farms from urban sprawl and mining is crucial to minimise shortage-induced price hikes and to ensure we know our food is local and safe, a forum in Sydney’s premier food producing region will hear next week.

The forum will call for integrated state planning, a more inclusive national food plan and overseas purchase of land be subject to a national interest test.

It has been organised by the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance (SFFA) and NSW Farmers’ Region 7 which covers the greater Sydney metropolitan area and hinterland, accounting for almost all the farms and market gardens providing fresh food for the city.

NSW Farmers’ spokesperson and Sydney farmer Fred Haskins says: “Australia is currently experiencing a fruit and vegetable shortage and will have to rely on imports for at least another couple of months because of frost in Queensland and flooding in Victoria. This brings increased  biosecurity challenges such as foreign crop diseases. Our city is increasingly less able to feed itself and unless the metropolitan strategy plans are reversed and we give more support to our farmers, we can expect more price rises as half of the numerous small Sydney farms disappear to make way for houses within two decades.”

Water system pioneer Peter Andrews, who created Natural Sequence Farming will headline the panel just weeks after the . Andrews, who will give insights into water retention and purity using natural processes says it is crucial that research into the long-term effect of mining and drilling into aquifers be mandated before mining operations commence. “As a result of the Hunter and Bylong Valley mining, I believe we will see a toxic plume through the groundwater all the way to Newcastle because it is connected. With deep groundwater changes could disrupt systems that have been in place for 10,000 years or more,” he says.

Department of Primary Industries’ Murray Spicer will detail extensive survey work by the Department on agricultural lands in NSW. “Because of urban expansion and consumer demand for unseasonal food, Sydneysiders are increasingly eating food from north Queensland down to Victoria and South Australia as the season progresses rather than from Sydney Basin farms, “ says Spicer, who is the Department’s horticultural program leader.

Biodynamic farming consultant/ex-CSIRO scientist Maarten Stapper, from Canberra, will highlight the environmental and health imperatives for moving to a more sustainable farming model with less reliance on finite resources such as fuel, chemicals and synthetic fertilisers in a climate-affected and carbon pricing environment.

AusBuy CEO Lynne Wilkinson will stress the importance of knowing where our food comes from and supporting Australian agriculture and our relatively high food standards and land management. “There are chemicals still used overseas that are banned here which Australia no longer tests for because of budget cuts. So, increasingly we have to rely on the word of the people selling us their food. We are also diminishing our ability to produce our own food because of sales of agricultural land overseas. In Western Australia for example, Chinese interests are producing milk for their domestic consumption.”

For more info go to the event page and download the flyer with the details.

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