Driving back from some days of holidays on the South coast we went past this depressing strip of new development around Campbelltown and half-given up farms around Badgery Creek. It is plain scary.
Two random examples: Oran Park and Jordan Springs. Oran Park is about 60 km South-West of Sydney with over 4000 residents and Jordan Springs 53 km West of Sydney. New developments look the same no matter where, no space for green, no space for growing and the farms gone. Former agricultural land is suburbanised, farms sold and remaining farmers find it harder and harder to work around suburbia, eventually they give up.
That is how Jordan Springs looked in 2012:
And Oran Park in 2012 (there was an apparently famous racecourse):
This is how Jordan Springs looks a bit zoomed in, see how much yard is left:
I played with google earth’s measuring tool to get some random backyard sizes. I measured backyards only, because that is what most people use for their vegetable gardens. Some were a bit over 30m2, some 60 or 70 m2, a few around 100 m2. House and land package means a lot of house, four bedrooms, double garage and a tiny backyard. Developers earn more building bigger houses than selling big gardens.
What happens in Jordan Springs happens in Oran Park, around Brisbane, in China, in Germany, everywhere. Of course, the suburbs chosen are examples of extremely poor planning, but typical nevertheless.
There is a limit of how much food can be produced on shrinking farmland, given the fact that the more inland you go the less rain there is. Not to mention increased trucking costs.
Paying a mortgage of six to nine hundred thousand dollars (that’s how much these houses cost!), while being 100% dependant on a functioning system would scare me and I simply would not want it. Our last Brisbane home was tiny, but it was built in a way that we did not need air conditioning and paid a fraction of the electricity costs. There was a huge mango tree cooling the house. On a moderate block of 400 m2 we had a huge vegetable garden a generous chickens run and some fruit (the new owners ripped the front yard, the chicken run and the garden out).
No developer built this suburb:
We cannot stop the developers and our governments are (fill in whatever you think) – we only can grow food on what’s left and try to get most out of it.
Diggers club suggests a 40 m2 Mini Plot for all the veggies of a family of four year-round. It is probably too optimistic at least in the first years of gardening, but you can grow a lot of food on 40 m2. I would include a chicken tractor for eggs, for fertilizer and for the kids. Your front yard would look most nice with some citrus or other fruit trees or even a food forest. Pots with herbs look classy. There is no need for a lawn mower. If you haven’t started start now you still can get some autumn planting in! Maybe you want to:
- Visit the Blue Mountains Edible Garden Festival this weekend.
- Read some gardening books
- Look up in ‘gardenate’ what you can plant now.
- Draw a scaled plan of your property (step by step how to)
- Plan your vegetable patch, the orchard and the herb garden, draw it on the scaled plan you printed.
- Visit a gardening workshop.
- Simply start!