Protect the Elite soils

Veges2Auckland Council’s planners are desperately wanting more housing.

There are all manner of rules and regulations that make building new homes problematic, rules and regulations that impose huge costs on our city and our citizens.

However, at the same time we need to be mindful that Auckland has some of the best growing conditions for vegetables, fruits and herbs in New Zealand. Our frost free climate and perfect growing soils means that Auckland is one of the few places in New Zealand that can produce many food crops. Pockets of land around Kumeu, Huapai and surrounding areas have particularly elite soils.

In the south Pukekohe’s market gardeners have already felt the impact of Auckland’s rampant population growth. In the past 10 years, about 16 per cent of Pukekohe’s dark brown, volcanic soil has been taken over for houses, and more is under threat from the city’s new planning rulebook.

Industry bodies have been warning of an impending food supply shortage if we continue to put houses on growing land. We need to be pragmatic and prioritise food security over housing, and prevent New Zealand’s best growing land from being turned into houses.

Failure to provide protection for prime growing land will see increasing fresh produce prices, and increasing imports of produce. This would not be in the best interests of both Aucklanders and New Zealanders. Council should work with the produce industry to ensure that growing land has blanket protection and we have affordable fresh vegetables produced on the land that is best suited to growing food. Reverse sensitives of sudden urban development potentially disrupting established growing operations need regulation to protect businesses through the buyer agreements and covenants, such as crop spraying or the use of farming-related machinery.

Recently I had a public display stand for people to meet me at the Kumeu Agricultural and Horticultural Society, one of the largest annual shows in the Southern Hemisphere. It was very noticeable how passionate the locals are to be caretakers of the land and want to look after the good agricultural land.

” I wonder how long business’s will be able to cope with the pressures of reverse sensitivity and new residential neighbours complaining about the smell of spray, noise and dirt on the road,” one local resident told me. “We are losing the right to farm because of the pressures of urbanisation.”

I agree with him. If Auckland Council is not careful we will run out of soil to feed the city and will have to import our vegetables.