This is the story of the Hawkesbury Harvest. Like all good stories it has heroes and villians, tragedy and the overcoming of adversity. its not just a good story; its an inspiring story of human endeavour.
Hawkesbury Harvest - The pioneering spirit lives on
The Pioneering Spirit Lives On
This is the story of Hawkesbury Harvest. Like all good stories it has heroes and villains, tragedy and the overcoming of adversity. It’s not just a good story; it’s an inspiring story of human endeavour that has life- affirming lessons for us all.
Hawkesbury Harvest tookits name from the Hawkesbury area in which it was conceived..
As the Hawkesbury Harvesthas grown and matured its influencehas spread across the Sydney Region and is being viewed by producers and consumers as a place brand for Sydney Region produce
The seed of Hawkesbury Harvest was created between 1810 and 1820 when the new Colony’s fifth Governor, Colonel Lachlan Macquarie established the five Macquarie Towns of Windsor, Richmond, Castlereagh, Pitt Town and Wilberforce.
Soon extensive farming fed the infant colony, taking advantage of the fertile soils of the Hawkesbury- Nepean River system..
There was no reason for Hawkesbury Harvest’s awakening during the era when the area serviced by theMacquarie Towns became first known as the breadbasket, and then the food bowl of Sydney.
The seed lay undisturbed for the ensuing 120 years during which time agriculture became the dominant economic force of the nation and in particular the Sydney region, specifically those areas based on the Hawkesbury-Nepean
• The 1940s marked the period when Sydney’s land use began to change significantly.• Suburbanisation started to sprawl out across the Basin.
Despite this theHawkesburyHarvest seed layquietly dormant asthe trends in thefood bowl gatheredmomentum and theday dawned when afew peoplewondered if actionmight be needed topreserveagriculture as aland use inassociation with theurban development.
At the end of the Second World War many people from the EuropeanUnion came to live in Australia.
Those who acquired or leased land on the outskirts of the ever-expanding urban Sydney soon realised the financial bonanza to be had from using the land to grow food and plants in its various forms while waiting until the housing arrived on their door step.
Land was plentiful as was the opportunity to grow food in parts of the country that were beginning to be opened up such as the Murray Darling Basin.
When the housing did arrive many simply sold to the developers and bought further out and waited for the next housing wave to arrive.
By the 1980s agricultural land in the Sydney Basin was regarded politically and within the bureaucracy as ‘land awaiting higher economic development.
“There is no place for agriculture in the Sydney Basin. Agriculture belongs over the (Dividing) Range and any agricultural land is land awaiting higher economic development” people in high places were saying
The Hawkesbury Harvestseed lay in the most barren of ground. Towards the late 1990s rural lifestyle living had overtaken farming as the major land use of acreage blocks.
The only effort in support of agriculture in the Basin was coordinated by the thencalled NSW Department of Agriculture with its focus on sound environmental practices and viability, as burning issues of the time.
As the second half of the20th Century progressed thesupermarket system began to emerge as the dominant force in the food chain.
This coincided with the loss of direct connection between people and farmers who grew the food they ate.
Relationshipbased social and environmental benefits were being progressively traded off for convenience shopping.
By the end of the 1990s the total dominance of the food chain by the major supermarkets was impacting on farm economic performance.
Small farm holdings in the Sydney Basin were under extreme pressure fromincreased competition and reduced power to determine price and thus incomes.
A survey in 2007 in the Hawkesburyconfirmed people had begun to realise that agriculture and/or some other means of making income from the acreage blocks had a vital role to play in the maintenance of that heritage landscape.
In early 2000 a community meeting was held in the packing shedof an orange orchard located between Richmond and Castlereagh. The orchard is on land over which Governor Macquarie could well have travelled when he explored the region and established the five towns.
• The purpose of that meeting was to determine how the small farm local agriculture and food related industries could achieve or enhance viability in the region.• During the meeting the Hawkesbury Harvest seed literally burst into life.
The first shoot to emerge was the Farm Gate Trail (FGT) ahybrid activity created by the integration of agriculture with the tourism and the hospitality industries.
Other shoots have since emerged including open farm days, farmersmarkets anda provedore
•BuildingOpportunity •Building a Future•Reaping the Harvest
Mission StatementHawkesbury Harvest is a community based Association committed to improving the economic viabilityand sustainability of local agriculture.
Open Farms Harvest has developed many ways of helping farmers market their produce.Farm Gate Farmers MarketsTrail Map Local Green Grocer Provedore Service Special Events
Kurrajong Native Foods For food producers it’s about finding alternativechannels through which they sell their products.Lee Etherington now exports to 37 countries and has amulti-million dollar turnover
‘Pine End Organic Farm has been a member of Hawkesbury Harvest for 2years now and in that time, we have found its professional organization of events,promotion and support to be of great benefit to our business. Not only has it brought more customers to ourfarmgate but has also given us the opportunity to be a part of the extensive marketplace which it promotes.’ Margarita and Shaun Carrick
Enniskillen Orchard Grose Vale ‘Hawkesbury Harvest provides me with a network of farmers who buy and sell from each other according to seasonal demands. Hawkesbury Harvest networking and promotion has assisted in the rapid growth of my business through my modern packing shed catering for local trade and a rapidly expanding tourist business. I am confident my business will further expand with Hawkesbury Harvest being and integral of that growth’ John Maguire.
A Typical Tourism Day 10:00 AM 10:00 AM 10:15 AM 10:30 AM
It’s about tourism working for farmers, not farmers working for tourism Edition 7 is a multi-map formatextending the Trail onto the South Coast
Cooperative Effort Harvest Role Local Government Role Farmer RoleDesign and Mentoring Local advocate Commitment to be open when they say they will beProduce the map Local link to media, Interest in innovating with tourism and community tourismMarket, media and web Strategic support for Like the general publicsupport agriculture and farms Monitor performance and Keep Harvest up to date – manage issues follow through – we can only be as good as they are
What the Harvest story contributes, even to those planning regimes where agriculture is protected, is what it means in cultural landscape and food culture terms, and its integral role in food quality, supply, security and equity in developed communities.The lessons learned here are fundamental to a viable future for agriculture in the urbanising world and associated food systems, not just of Sydney, but also for all modern industrialised economies and their human settlements.
Acknowledgements• The text in this PowerPoint is taken from “The Hawkesbury Harvest Story exploring the socio-cultural intersection between urbanisation and agriculture in the Sydney Basin” by Ian Knowd and David Mason• Images and text in slides 29 to 38 are taken from a PowerPoint presentation by Ian Knowd
WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE SPONSORS OF THE 2010 CREAM OF THE CROP COMPETITIONPLATINUM GOLD SILVER BRONZE