A PORT Stephens macadamia farm is feeling the pressure of housing development, but its owner is determined to protect what he describes as a ‘‘unique place in the concrete jungle’’.
Scott Leech has been operating Medowie Macadamias for 14 years.
‘‘All the land around me has been bought by developers,’’ Mr Leech said.
Mr Leech said development and increasing complaints from neighbours led him to believe the farming side of his business may not have a future – at least not on its present scale.
‘‘It’ll definitely be an issue over the next five years,’’ he said.
‘‘If you can’t do the farming practices you have to do, pests become an issue which effects the product and how much you can grow.’’
The Newcastle Herald reported on Monday that prime agricultural land in the Hunter was under threat from development.
Mr Leech believes there should be a way for farming and urban development to co-exist.
‘‘I don’t think we need to keep clearing land and putting McDonald’s on every corner,’’ he said.
He said councils and the state government should show more support for businesses like his.
‘‘Talk is cheap, but I need the powers that be to show they want places like ours to be viable,’’ he said.
Port Stephens MP Craig Baumann said there was a buffer zone to protect the macadamia farm ‘‘that lets them spray’’.
‘‘We don’t want residents up against the fence – I don’t think that philosophy has changed,’’ Mr Baumann said.
‘‘He should be right to trade for as long as the trees are viable.’’
The NSW government Lower Hunter discussion paper, released earlier this year, said zonings and planning policies could ‘‘establish the circumstances in which housing can be developed near agricultural uses’’.
‘‘Such development requires robust assessment regimes to limit its effect on high value and critical rural and resource lands,’’ it said.
The five-hectare macadamia farm employs 13 people, with 1000 macadamia trees, a gift shop and cafe.
Mr Leech said the cafe and shop had a promising future and, if farming ever ceased, he would not remove the trees.
‘‘People come for the tranquility, with the cafe perched in the middle of an orchard so close to suburbia,’’ he said.
‘‘Developers offered to buy us out years ago, but I stood my ground and wasn’t blinded by money.’’
MP go nuts for Port Stephens macadamias
THE popularity of Medowie Macadamias goes right to the state political corridors of power.
Port Stephens MP Craig Baumann said ‘‘everybody loves’’ the nuts, along with politicians.
‘‘One minister in particular, Pru Goward, loves them,’’ Mr Baumann said.
‘‘She can’t function without at least a half-kilo bag each sitting Tuesday.’’
He keeps macadamias in his office.
‘‘Coalition and Labor MPs can come in and have a few nuts if they want, as they’re passing,’’ he said.
Macadamia farmer Scott Leech on his farm in Medowie, which is feeling the pinch from encroaching development. Picture Jonathan Carroll