Farming on the fringe: re-visioning peri-urban market gardens in Sydney's historical and contemporary cityscape

Sarah James

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


The market gardening practices of Sydney 's culturally diverse inhabitants have long been neglected in the plans for growth of this aspiring global city. Yet, in providing fresh food for the city and local employment, practices such as market gardening arguably contribute not only to Sydney's globalizing demographic and cultural fabric, but also to the city's environmental sustainability. Encroaching urbanization, however, currently threatens over 50 percent of the market gardens on Sydney's peri-urban fringe suggesting that the current planning vision neglects this productive aspect of the city. In the face of urban encroachment discourses of heritage have been mobilised around the market gardens of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) growers in the city's South-West. Exhibitions on the histories of these growers have sought to highlight the place of CALD migrant farmers within the city's historical landscape and their role in shaping the city physically and culturally. The extent to which a heritage framing will serve to protect what is a 'living' tradition of market gardening, however, is less than certain. While they continue to contribute to the city's fresh food supply, the alternative land use practices of these groups such as market gardening are often (too easily) dismissed as marginal or periphery to the life of the city. Recognition through prevailing heritage discourses which privilege built form risk framing the practice of market gardening by CALD growers as essentially an antiquated tradition that is only ever an ephemeral element of urban growth. More broadly conceived notions of 'heritage' are possible however -ones that acknowledge that all inhabitants have a stake in the city, environmentally, economically and culturally. In drawing attention to Sydney's 'diverse urban isms' this paper explores the historical role of market gardens in 'growing' the city and their potential contributions to sustaining Sydney into the future.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGreen fields, brown fields, new fields
Subtitle of host publicationproceedings of the 10th Australasian Urban History, Planning History conference
EditorsDavid Nichols, Anna Hurlimann, Clare Mouat, Stephen Pascoe
Place of PublicationMelbourne
PublisherUniversity of Melbourne
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9780734041562
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes
EventAustralasian Urban History / Planning History Conference (10th : 2010) - Melbourne
Duration: 7 Feb 201010 Feb 2010


ConferenceAustralasian Urban History / Planning History Conference (10th : 2010)


Dive into the research topics of 'Farming on the fringe: re-visioning peri-urban market gardens in Sydney's historical and contemporary cityscape'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this