Eastern Suburbs Sydney
Randwick City Council Votes to Protect Chinese Market Gardens ... But There's a Sting!
The land in question is 7 hectares bounded by Bunnerong Road to the east, Botany Cemetery to the north, Bicentennial Park to the west and Hill 60 to the south (a sand dune previously subject to sand extraction). The property is currently used for market gardens, as it has been historically used for over 150 years, to produce food for the Sydney region. According to the State Heritage Listing, in each garden, there is a group of buildings used to wash vegetables, or as storerooms for agricultural machinery, fertilizer and tools. It is Crown land located within the Randwick Council Local Government Area. A creek bisects the site and local flooding occurs.
On May 10, the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park lodged a “Planning Proposal” to develop 60% of the Gardens for gravesites. They are hoping that the NSW Government, owners of the land, will allow them to annex the northern part of the gardens and further believe they have a moral right to expect there demands be accepted.
I understand that there will be a shortage of burial sites in Sydney over the next few years. I also accept that some cultures do not allow cremations. I believe that food producing land is NOT the place for the dead. It is a place that sustains life and gives food security to local regions. At a time when our food sources are being threatened by coal mining and coal seam gas extraction, it’s appropriate that we see leadership by our politicians and community pillars to support and protect urban food producers such as the families that have been growing our food at the Market Gardens for over 80 years.
There is much degraded land in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney ripe for remediation. Take, for example, the 18ha Orica site, Southlands, in Banksmeadow. Southlands is a site that could be transformed into a Burial Parkland within a peaceful bushland haven, rich in native flora and fauna. Further to this, our society must address exactly how we bury our dead. ‘Natural Burials’, as defined by the Australasian Cemeteries and Crematoria Association as “the act of returning the body as naturally as possible to the earth”, is the way of the future as we deal with a growing population and the resulting need for ecologically responsible use of non-food producing land for responsible burials.
Natural burials are achieved without the use of cremation, which can generate up to 160kg of greenhouse gasses per corpse, and without the use of embalming liquids that often contain the carcinogenic chemical formaldehyde, that can leak into the soil once a body is buried. About 25% of Southlands could be used in this way. This would be a win for the environment, a win for the communities that don’t accept cremation and a win for the Market Gardens and our food security.
As a community, we should stand alongside responsible landuse policy and promote urban food production for the following reasons: i) maintenance of food security; ii) low carbon kilometres in transporting produce locally thereby reducing pollution; iii) provision of sustainable and local employment. This especially important in the case of the La Perouse Market and should be protected at the highest level.