Planning for Peri-urban Agriculture: a geographically-specific, evidence-based approach from Sydney

Sarah James, Phillip O'Neill

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Agriculture on the fringes of cities across the Global North is increasingly perceived as making an important contribution to urban sustainability. As Australian cities continue to expand and encroach on their peri-urban peripheries, there is rising concern about loss of farmland to housing. Such concerns are especially urgent in the Sydney Basin, due to population growth, and topographical and land-use constraints. Accounting for the Basin's farmlands, however, remains opaque, not unrelated to difficulties in acquiring reliable data on the area and value of Sydney's agricultural industries. The problem is not simply that there are no data available but rather that the nature of existing data is (often hotly) contested. Critical questions for urban planners therefore remain unanswered, including: is peri-urban agriculture as important as advocates suggest? Are metropolitan food supplies under threat? If peri-urban farmland is important, what should be done to preserve it? In collating and analysing existing Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and non-ABS data on Sydney agriculture between 1992 and 2011, we outline the need for more reliable and consistent longitudinal data to enable better planning for Sydney's farmland into the future. Notwithstanding limitations of available data sources, our findings reveal trends in Sydney Basin agriculture that invite debate on many assumptions about the nature of peri-urban agriculture. These findings emphasise the importance of geographically specific, evidence-based analysis as a basis for planning for peri-urban agriculture.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)179-194
    JournalAustralian Geographer
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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