Protecting sydney's peri-urban agriculture: Moving beyond a housing/farming dichotomy

Sarah W. James*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


In Australia, as in other Western countries, peri-urban farmland is increasingly being considered a public good, contributing to urban sustainability and climate change mitigation. To retain local food production, advocates have called for the implementation of farmland protection policies that restrict urban development, such as exclusion zoning. Many such policies have been abandoned due to protests, often from the very people the policies are ostensibly intended to protect - farmers. Examining the failure of Sydney's latest 'green zones' through a political ecology lens, this paper challenges the prevailing narrative that these protests indicate a lack of community support for the ideal of farmland protection. The failure of the green zones was one of political process, specifically the lack of consultation with Sydney's culturally and linguistically diverse small-scale farmers, rather than community rejection of the principle of protection. Interview responses from farmers suggest that a bottom-up approach to policy-making would have yielded alternative and more successful approaches to maintaining farming on the fringe. This paper concludes that ensuring small-scale farmers have access to and agency in the environmental decision-making process generates options for farmland protection policy that move beyond a housing-versus-farming dichotomy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-386
Number of pages10
JournalGeographical Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


  • Sydney
  • Urban agriculture
  • Urban planning
  • Urban political ecology


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