with residential, industrial and infrastructure development provides another argument for
exploring the potential of UA to replace some of those lost farmlands. Rapid urbanisation
also decreases the quality and quantityof green space in densifying cities and UA offers the
possibility of using previously overlooked “informal”open space such as vacant lots,
disused bowling greens,street and railway verges for food production.
UA ranges from remnant market gardens on the city fringe, to non-commercial
community gardens, to high-tech, high-rise“agritectural”developments (Agritecture, 2020).
Each scale of operation has unique interactions with the law. This paper examines a new
phenomenon, at least in Australia: the emergence of the multi-functional, medium-scale
urban farming operation, situated conceptually between a community garden and a single
full-scale commercial agricultural enterprise and located spatially in the midst of built-up
Initiating such enterprises within the boundaries of a dense urban area involves
navigating numerous legal restrictions,particularly relating to planning and environmental
regulations. There are also corporations and associations laws, which regulate the
management structure, operations and governance of an agricultural enterprise, whether
not-for-profit or commercial business. Finding and negotiating access to unused or under-
used land is another challenge.
In Australia’s three-tiersystem of governance, it is essential to understand the legislation
applicable at State and local levels which governs the land use planning and development
approval processes and expectations for a prospective farm’s interactions with neighbours
and the surrounding environment: for example, avoiding potential nuisance issues such as
noise, odour, increased traffic, the attraction of vermin. Legal responsibilities around work
health and safety (WHS) arise for management and employees of the operation, as well as
for volunteers and visitors to the site,as does compliance with food safety regulationswhen
fresh or processed produceis sold directly.
This paper explores these planning and legal issues and presents three models for UA
enterprise implemented in Sydney, Australia: firstly, in the Western Sydney Parklands
(WSP), administered by the WSP Trust, an agency created by the New South Wales (NSW)
Government; secondly,the City of Sydney’sCity Farm, in an inner-city neighbourhood of the
city; and thirdly, the proposed export-focussed Agribusiness Precinct associated with the
development of a new airport on Sydney’ssouth-west fringe.
If cities want to encourage UA, arguably planning legislation needs to part of the legal
framework for enabling it to germinate and thrive. Best practice also suggests bringing
together the diverse range of legal and regulatory requirements pertinent to UA as
published guidance for farmers, planners and legal consultants, as has been done for many
2. Agriculture and the expanding city
Whilst UA has undergone a resurgence over the past few decades, in fact, it never really
went away. In the developed world, the introduction of the products of the nineteenth-
century industry –artificial fertilisers, fossil fuels –to the work of agriculture led to
the establishment of rural agribusinessand increasing banishment of urban farming to the
hinterlands (Philpott, 2010). Nevertheless, driven by the impacts of the depression, war, the
post-Second World War environmentalmovement and more recently, considerations of food
security, climate change and well-being, UA has survived and indeed thrived (Mok et al.,
2014). Further, agriculturenot only continues to be a major contributor to urban households
in developing countries but also despite rapid urbanisation, “differences between rural and
urban livelihood householdsappear to be decreasing”(DeBon et al.,2010,p.21).