Not so long ago Liesje, our Sydney City Farm secretary, received a call from a
man by the name of Herman van der Made.
She was astounded to discover he had been lobbying for a city farm on the
Sydney Park site in St Peters nearly 40 years ago.
The similarities in his vision and what we in the Sydney
City Farm Group have been lobbying for are uncanny. This is his story…
Herman van der Made still remembers vividly the morning, almost 60 years
ago, when he woke up to the delicious smell of freshly baked bread filling the
air. As a hungry young man from the Nederlands backpacking around
Europe, almost nothing could be more tantalising. He quickly dressed and
following his nose, found himself in a beautiful Stadtbauernhof – a city farm in
the heart of South Germany.
That breakfast of warm bread, freshly churned curd from the farm’s cow and
coffee, set Herman on a quest that will finally come to fruition 60 years later
when the Sydney City Farm is created at Sydney Park in St Peters.
Europe, England and the United states were all well served with city farms
and Herman continued to seek out city farms – and that perfect breakfast -
wherever he travelled as a young man. Some years later when Herman, who
was now an architect, brought his family to settle in Sydney he was surprised
to find no farms in the city. Having experienced the pleasures of city farms he
decided to rectify the situation. In the early 1980s he directed his office to
prepare a proposal for the establishment of a city farm in what was, at that
time, a neglected wasteland in St Peters, to be sent to the City of Sydney
Council, Marrickville Council and other bodies including the RAS. Despite
there being little understanding of the concept of a city farm he managed to
interest a couple of enlightened men in the Department of Environmental
Planning and finally under the Greenspace Program in 1984, Fairfield City
Farm was born.
Herman, though, never let his dream of a farm on that wasteland in St Peters,
die. He would wander around the area, now Sydney Park, and think “Wouldn’t
it be nice…” In his imagination he saw himself arriving there to have freshly
baked bread and coffee amongst the lush green of a farm, surrounded by
orchards laden with all varieties of fruit.
Unfortunately, Marrickville Council, which at that stage held jurisdiction over
the area, continued to reject Herman’s proposal claiming there would be
inadequate parking. Not long after, Herman suffered his second heart attack
and his plans for the city farm were reluctantly relegated to the bottom drawer
where they have remained for over 20 years.
Recently Herman’s dreams were reawakened when he heard his vision for a
city farm at Sydney Park might soon become a reality. He contacted the
Sydney City Farm Group to offer his help. Liesje Clement and I, both
committee members for the group, met him there a few days ago. It was a
cold and blustery day but even the biting wind couldn’t dampen Herman’s
passionate enthusiasm for the future farm, his parting words to us being – “I
can die in peace if this farm happens…”