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Agriculture on the Urban Fringe

Thu 25 Sep 2014 @10am - 3.30pm


The NSW Division of the Ag Institute conducted a successful event with NSW DPI discussing and learning more about peri-urban agriculture. This event at Ourimbah attracted thirty five people (students to retirees) from a diverse variety of backgrounds.

At the beginning of the day NSW DPI provided us with a better understanding of their research capability across agriculture, livestock and fisheries. A tour later in the day of some of their facilities showed us the value they are providing to the protected cropping sector, a significant business within peri-urban regions. An example of a research  output included a more efficient and cost-effective wastewater filtration equipment for hydroponics which maintains nutrient value in the waters while screening out all other pathogens.

Joe Lane from GHD presented a study of the Penrith region showing us the issues and opportunities in peri-urban agriculture, including the need for interested parties to be involved in the long term planning with state and local governments.

Research by Tanya Latty (Sydney University) on pollinators showed us that while we must maintain vigilance in our biosecurity against varroa mite and understand its impact on honey bees, there were 1,600 species of other pollinators which are already providing some pollination value and have the potential to provide more.

Tocal College's wide ranging capabilities and educational resources were presented by Steve Honeywood and Michelle Smith. Valuable education to many culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) groups helped to maintain good agriculture practices across many peri-urban farming groups. Steve and Michelle also showed us through case studies that Tocal was flexible in its activities and was able to respond quickly to educational requirements.

With all of this knowledge and networking, we were then treated to a presentation by our secretary, Erika Watson, co-owner of Epicurian Harvest with her partner Hayden. This gave us a 'window' into her business as a producer of specialty organic fruit and vegetables for direct supply to Sydney's finest chefs and restaurants. Erika showed allowed us to see that there were new opportunities in peri-urban agriculture and getting closer to the consumer / customer was an essential part of this.

The short workshop at the end stimulated our desire to keep the conversation on peri-urban agriculture going. Some of the issues to keep discussing (good potential for AIA input) included government land and infrastructure planning; educating both the public, current and potential growers; the value and use of social media; support for the diversity in peri-urban agriculture (e.g. Hawkesbury Harvest) and a more centralised resource plus communication to let people access good information and hear of networking opportunities



Agriculture on the Urban Fringe allows you to hear from experts in NSW working in the various areas of the peri-urban agricultural environment:

  • Urban planning and sustainable agribusiness.
  • Challenges faced by this sector of agriculture.
  • The unique training needs of this industry.


Delegates attending the event will also have the exclusive opportunity to tour the $6 million facilities including the Centre of Excellence in Market Access and Greenhouse Horticulture. Research areas of focus include:

  • Horticultural services
  • Protected cropping
  • Legume inoculant testing
  • Field vegetables and new crop investigation
  • Soil health
  • Fisheries compliance; and
  • Biometrical services.



Thursday 25TH September, 2014



9:30 am registration with morning tea

10:00 am to 3:30 pm (lunch included)



Central Coast Primary Industries Centre – site of University of Newcastle, Ourimbah Campus, North Loop Rd, Ourimbah NSW 2258


COST (GST Incl.):

AIA Members / Growers / Students - $40

Non-members - $55




Steve Honeywood is an education officer at Tocal College, NSW DPI with a background in environmental science. Steve formally coordinated the NSW Weeds Training Program that delivered accredited training to the weed management industry statewide. Steve's current role is Leader of the Short Course training Program that provides industry training for agriculture, horticulture and conservation and land management from certificate II to advanced diploma.

 To view Steve's presentation, click here.



Joe Lane has worked professionally in agricultural consulting and rural development for more than 40 years. He has a range of experience in land use planning, including rural land use strategies and agricultural impact assessments, balancing the importance of agricultural land use and the demand for other uses. Working at university, government and farmer levels in Australia, and includes consultancies for extended periods on agriculture and natural resource management projects in Indonesia, China and India. Joe has completed a number of “urban fringe” projects for the NSW Department of Planning & Environment, Penrith City Council and Western Sydney Parklands Trust.



Tanya Latty is an insect ecologist with a particular interest in social insects. She obtained a PhD in insect ecology from the University of Calgary (Canada) in 2008, where she conducted extensive field studies into aggregation behavior of the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae), an insect pest that has devastated the Canadian forestry industry. Her more recent work has focused on the behavior and ecology of ants and bees, with a particular interest in native Australian pollinators. She has recently joined the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment at the University of Sydney.



Michelle Smith is an Education Officer with over 20 years experience in the Horticulture Industry and qualifications in Environmental Science, Sustainable Agriculture and Education. Michelle’s primary role within Tocal College is to deliver training to land managers in the Sydney Basin including culturally and linguistically different (CALD) vegetable farmers in the Sydney Basin.

To view Michelle's presentation, click here.


Should you have any questions regarding the CCPIC / Ag Institute event please don’t hesitate to contact the Ag Institute NSW Branch on


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