GROWING THE SOUTH-WEST | New urban-farm lots set for release

WesternSydneyParklands is calling for farmers to apply for new land leases in the HorsleyPark agricultural area -- 100 hectares of urban farms in the parklands.

Fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers are grown at 16 existing urban farms and sold at markets across Sydney and at the farm gate. The new land lots range from 3 to 9 hectares and are available for mixed agricultural uses, such as open growing, orchards and glasshouses.

For generations, urban farming in the region has offered a pathway for new migrants, enabling family farming traditions to continue and providing the community with fresh local produce.

Meng Sun, of the family-run Sun's Fresh Farm, has been in the parkland's precinct for eight years and farming has been in Meng's family for 25 years. Sun's grows seasonal produce, including zucchini, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers for markets, cafes and food trucks.

"Our customers tell us they notice a real difference in the taste of our produce because it's so fresh," Meng said. "Something as simple as a cucumber -- people say they didn't know it could taste so good. The food trucks say our produce lasts much longer because of the freshness."

Alex Doan, at Sydney Flowers Express, quit a brief stint as a civil engineer to rejoin the family business. He now grows gerberas, carnations and snapdragons and said working outdoors as an urban farmer makes him feel free.

"I went back to the land and my roots," he said. "I love the independence of farming -- connecting with nature and the land. Urban farming is great for younger generations, providing opportunities to learn family skills and get their hands dirty."

The parklands is the largest urban park in Australia, spanning 27 kilometres across 5280 hectares, almost the same size as Sydney Harbour.

The parkland's SuellenFitzgerald said it's vital to grow food closer to where people live -- in the cities: "These farms are nurturing our communities and our cities and we look forward to more of them in our beautiful parklands."

This story Farm lots for release first appeared on Liverpool City Champion.