UPDATE 9.1.12:  Letters in Sydney Morning Herald today in response to Growing vegies becomes a question of life and death, page 3.

Gardens are historical

Forget the Opera House. Sydney’s remnant Chinese market gardens are true Sydney icons (”Growing vegies becomes a question of life and death”, January 7-8). Hard-working immigrant Chinese played a major role in the development of Sydney and the state. Given their present numbers, they will do so again. For more than a decade, my local and overseas tourist guests have marvelled at the beauty of these gardens, always thriving despite the salty sand-soil. The noisy, orange-breasted native parrots are a delightful bonus. Captain Phillip drew his first fresh water from the site, and there are remnants of Sydney’s huge electric tramway network right outside the gate. History is where you look for it. The La Perouse Chinese garden must be saved. Kevin Eadie Drummoyne

The Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park should not be in a position where it is running out of space and attempting to take over land from the Chinese gardens. Why didn’t the trust object when huge warehouses were erected adjacent to the cemetery? These buildings cover a vast amount of space and are often deserted and up for lease. In addition to occupying what, with foresight, could have been burial ground, they are a mammoth eyesore when viewed from inside the cemetery. Why interfere with the Chinese gardens and spend vast amounts of money trying to reclaim a flood plain for burials when it is the warehouses that should be removed thus allowing the cemetery to continue naturally up to Bunnerong Road.  Helen Francey Phillip Bay

The conundrum is not ”should open land be used to bury the dead or to feed the living”. It is why don’t we do both? I can think of little better use for my carcass than as nutrient for a nice bed of eggplants. Paul van Reyk Petersham

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As part of the new Local Environment Plan (LEP) Randwick City Council has recommended the rezoning of the Chinese Market Gardens from Residential 2B to Small Lot Primary Production:

“CHINESE MARKET GARDENS – 1-19,21-39 Koorooera Ave, 1002-1100 Bunnerong Road & 1R Kooringai Ave – Council recommendation:
Due to its uniqueness in terms of local food production, biodiversity, heritage and scenic values, the site is proposed to be rezoned RU4 Primary Production Small Lot to preserve the primary agricultural use on the site, while protecting the State significant heritage and scenic character of the land.”  

Council has received community support for this proposed rezoning but there is strong opposition from the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Trust(ESMT) which is seeking to take over 60% of the  7ha property.  The Trust outlined their plans in their 2010 Annual Report 

The Chinese Market Gardens are Heritage Listed, the gardeners supply fresh food to local businesses and Flemington markets.  There is increasing interest in sourcing vegetables (particularly fresh greens)  locally.

Councillors are meeting staff of the ESMT on February 21st.  There will be a site inspection followed by a presentation.  Councillors could note the following:

1.   There are opportunities within the  Cemetery and Memorial Gardens estates to use land more efficiently.

 

 

 

 

 

2.  The Crown Lands Report of 2008 recommended against grave sites for the Market Gardens because they are situated in floodplain:  Link to report   The lowest lying of the 3 gardens is currently vacant.

3.   Land on higher ground on Military Road could be used.  Currently there are a number of heavy vehicle generating businesses impacting on funeral corteges and cemetery visitors.

4.   The Market Gardens are part of Sydney’s multicultural farming tradition – see this link and this blog   (Photos below:  L- to Bicentennial Park;  M – Ha family farmers; and R – to Bunnerong Road)

Previous story links:  Link 1  Link 2  Link 3

Terry Ha and brother Gordon Ha and their family have been cultivating the land of what is known as the Chinese Market Gardens for about 50 years and are fighting to prevent the State Government from transferring their land for use by the Botany Cemetery. Photo: ELENOR TEDENBORG

 

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