The Illawarra Shoalhaven food system encompasses the total value chain including production, consumption, distribution, and waste and resource recovery. Production is influenced by the region’s changing rainfall and temperature patterns, increasing urbanisation, which is fragmenting agricultural land, and risks to biosecurity.
Land-use planning decisions can also lead to development of productive lands and place pressure on water resources which is compounded by purchasing power of large supermarket chains to increase vulnerability of local food producers. Growth in demand for ‘clean-green’ produce is driving exports but is also assisting in the transition to protect local food security.
The ISJO identifies opportunities for secure and equitable access to healthy, nutritious foods that are produced locally with a ‘small’ ecological footprint. Peri-urban food production is agile, expanding and climate adapted and local food production and sharing (e.g. farmers markets and co-ops) will thrive through an active social enterprise market that is supported by government. Expanding food-and farm-tourism enterprises will also contribute to a diversified local economy and create varied employment opportunities, especially for the region’s youth.
Agritourism: Unlocking the full potential of our regional economy
In partnership with the NSW Department of Planning & Environment, Destination Sydney Surrounds South and the Department of Regional NSW, ISJO is developing an education initiative to increase awareness of the opportunities in agritourism available to property owners and to facilitate the transition by Councils through their local planning system.
Stakeholder research will inform the current challenges, perceptions and opportunities for those already working within the sector as well as the resources and support required to grow these offerings in businesses. Based on this, a blueprint for agritourism in regional areas will be developed, proving pathways for green visitor economies, reducing red tape in local planning approvals and utilising existing facilities such as local showgrounds to become hubs supporting visitor engagement and local community engagement.
This project is a pilot with the ambition of working collaboratively across the other five Destination Networks to offer the program across regional NSW.