We are nearly as urbanised as Japan (94%) and more urbanised than the United States (82%) and United Kingdom (83%). We in the bush would do well to remember how minor is our minority in the nation’s affairs, and remind ourselves that our fate rests largely in our own hands, and our choices.
We have made one big choice, to live outside the cities — just as all those who live within our cities have made a choice not to live in the bush.
Having made our choice, we can’t complain that urban Australia doesn’t understand us. We might have to deal with the issues presented by climate, distance and limited infrastructure, but urban dwellers have challenges of their own: property prices, clogged commutes, noise. We all have worries.
But we can do more to instil pride in the 99.8% of Australia that 10% of us call home, and to show the other 90% why they should be proud of it too.
Demonstrating that we are all linked to the soil, and the food and fibre it produces, is a wonderful way to keep our landscapes in the urban eye.
Farm2Plate is promoted as “where farmers, food and drink producers, chefs, tourism and hospitality businesses gather to exchange knowledge, ideas and learn from experience. It’s where big challenges meet big ideas and real solutions are shared, debated and evolved.”
This is bringing people together not merely to say, “because farmers produce your food, you should be grateful”, but as an invitation to belong. It’s asking the whole food value chain to contribute to a better chain, rather than leaving each link to work on its own.
Importantly, it asks the whole chain to think about where we can value-add our agricultural produce, so that Australia’s economy captures more of our farm output before it reaches consumers.
This is where the future lies. Not in the urban-rural divide, but in acknowledging our interdependence. We are all linked, not just by food and fibre supply chains, but through the warp and weft of our nation’s economy, politics and environment, and ourselves.
Perhaps, through initiatives like this, we might persuade more people in the city to bring their businesses and brains to the bush.
It would be something to be proud of to see Australia’s growing urbanisation to reverse over the next 10-20 years, and become a “ruralisation” — the realisation that outside our clogged cities lies opportunity as well as space.
Regionality’s Farm2Plate Exchange is being held in northern NSW on May 14-15. I encourage you to think about joining the conversation.
By Robbie Sefton
This article was published in The Land newspaper on Thursday 25th April 2019. Link to the article can be found here: https://www.theland.com.au/story/6081758/city-dwellers-have-their-own-struggles-to-contend-with/?cs=4941
Robbie Sefton has a dual investment in rural Australia as a farmer, producing wool, meat and grains, and as managing director of national marketing communications company Seftons.