Whither the city's fringe

vgavic.org.au

Whither the city's fringe

Age20/06/2009Page: 10General NewsBy: Jason DowlingRegion: MelbourneWhither the city's fringevege farms in the big dry?By JASON DOWLINGCITY EDITORPAT Senserrick's family hasfarmed vegetables on its10-hectare Keilor property since1926 - growing artichokes,cauliflowers and lettuces.But lately, this vegetablegrowingbusiness, 16 kilometresfrom the city, has not been sogood as water has becomescarce and more expensive.Indeed, the Senserricks did notplant a crop this year - the firsttime in more than 80 years ofvegetable growing.And while Melbournedebated this week the StateGovernment's proposal toexpand the city's urban growthboundary by 41,000 hectaresgobbling up thousands of hectaresof green wedge land - MrSenserrick said other uses forMelbourne's vegetable-growingland should be considered.Mr Senserrick, who boughtthe local fruit shop five yearsago as an alternate incomesource, said vegetable growingwas no longer viable in the areafor many farmers, particularlysmall growers."These growers are hemorrhagingdown here; people aresuffering financially and theycant keep going," he said.He said there were manyempty paddocks that were oncefilled with crops.Mr Senserrick predicts vegetablegrowing in the area couldend within a decade as thewater dries up."The Maribyrnong River hasalways been the main watersource. Previously, if the riverflow slowed down, they wouldcease its pumping from theMaribyrnong around DeceinfThese growers arehemorrhaging down here. YPAT SENSERRICK, vegetable farmerher, and maybe in March youwould get use again. This year, Ithink it stopped in October andit has only just started to flowagain."He said two- to four-hectarelifestyle lots or sporting groundscould replace vegetable growingon land no longer viable forfarming. "We are not trying tobe greedy, but we think lifestylelots are very realistic and if thatcan't happen, we would evenput to the council about sportinggrounds for schools." Zoned"rural conservation", the Senserricks'land is covered by strictplanning controls.However, not everyone supportsa transition from vegetablefarmland to other purposes.State Government MP DonNardella is a member of a parliamentarycommittee examiningfarming in outer-suburbanMelbourne."Unless we actually protectirrigation or fanning areas, thenthey go," he said. "We're actuallygoing to find that getting readyaccess to food is going tobecome very problematic tourbanised cities, especially Melbourne."He said farmers needed certaintyin terms of land use asurban growth crept closer."Unless we give certainty tothose farmers, they will justwant subdivision."Mr Nardella said growingvegetables on Melbourne'sfringes was still viable. "It isviable, but it needs to have theprotection of long-terns certainty."But that's not the case, saysMr Senserrick. "They keep tryingto tell its that it's viable, butwe're the ones paying the bills."


Pat Senserrick and his sister Carmen on their family's 10-hectare vegetable farm at Keilor.PICTURE: JASON SOUTH

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines