Article by: Hari Yellina
Pick your own fruit orchards’ future is uncertain because Planning NSW may make alterations that aren’t finalised for another month. Growers contend that Planning NSW’s proposed proposal to modify the rules governing agritourism could really do more harm than good. The idea set a cap on the number of visitors to farms at 50 per day for a total of 10 days per year. A farm would need to submit a development application if it exceeded that amount. Margaret Tadrosse of the Bilpin Fruit Bowl said the figures might be changed, but for the time being it was a waiting game after her petition amassed more than 39,000 signatures and meetings with Minister for Planning Anthony Roberts.
They acknowledged that what they had first proposed was a little foolish, and they concurred that revisions would be made, she added. We are awaiting the next proposal and will keep battling it if we are not satisfied with it. Ms. Tadrosse stated that she advised them to up the numbers and eliminate the number of days in a year. She remarked, “I don’t see how they think 10 days per year is practical for a farmer. “I have 20,000 trees on my farm. For it to be profitable, each visitor would need to remove 40 trees if I let 50 visitors each day, ten times a year.”
While her farm was well established, with restrooms and a cemented parking lot, Ms. Tadrosse claimed that others were not, and if businesses were required to submit a development application, they would encounter significant difficulties. Council will then respond, “Let’s examine what your infrastructure is,” she said. “The requirements that will be required lead the cost to soar. They won’t be able to pay it, so they’ll just say, “Not doing it, ripping my trees out,” and another farm will be lost. Although pick your own is only a minor portion of Batlow producer Greg Mouat’s company, Mouats Farm, he can receive as many as 40 families a day during peak season.
People are really interested in learning about the origins of their food, and it’s also incredibly instructive for children, he claimed. Mr. Mouat claimed that he began offering pick-your-own fruit in the early 1980s with berries and then added cherries and apples. It’s something we would look at doing again, but if we do it, it would be picking your own, he said. “The berry bushes themselves were a bit old and less prolific so we didn’t bother replanting those.” If there were laws in place prohibiting individuals from being on our land, we would be less likely to do it.
A representative for the NSW Department of Planning and Environment said the draught policy aimed to strike a compromise between individual farms’ freedom to diversify and the ability to comply with more straightforward planning regulations with the possible effects on neighbours and roadways. We will continue to discuss the policy with farmers, councils, and businesses to ensure that we get it right and make agritourism simpler and more understandable for everyone.