THE future of pick your own fruit orchards is in limbo with potential changes from Planning NSW being finalised during the next month.
Planning NSW has released a draft proposal for changes to agritourism to regulate the industry, but growers are saying it could instead destroy it.
The proposal limited the number of people allowed on a farm to 50 a day for a total of 10 days a year.
If a farm were to go over that number they would need to put in a development application.
After her petition reached more than 39,000 people and meetings with Minister for Planning Anthony Roberts, Bilpin Fruit Bowl's Margaret Tadrosse said the numbers might be adjusted, but for now it was a waiting game.
"They did agree that what they were initially proposing was a bit silly and they have agreed that they will make changes," she said.
"We're waiting to see what the next proposal is and if we're not happy with that we'll continue fighting it."
Ms Tadrosse said she recommended they increase the numbers and scrap the number of days per year.
"I don't know how they think 10 days per year is viable for a farmer," she said.
"On my farm I have 20,000 trees. If I'm allowed 50 people per day 10 times a year that means every person that comes in has to strip 40 trees to make it viable."
Ms Tadrosse said while her farm was well established, with toilets and a sealed carpark, most were not, and if businesses were forced to put in a development application they would be faced with more issues.
"Council is going to turn around and say let's see what your infrastructure is," she said.
"The cost skyrockets because of the requirements that are going to be needed.
"They're not going to be able to afford that and they're just going to say 'not doing it, pulling my trees out' and there's another farm that's gone."
Batlow grower Greg Mouat (also on our cover), Mouats Farm, said while pick your own is only a small part of his business he can get as many as 40 families a day during peak season.
"People are really keen to see where their food comes from and it's very educational for kids," he said.
Mr Mouat said he started pick your own in the early 1980s with berries and has since transitioned to cherries, alongside apples.
"The berry plants themselves got a bit old and less productive so we didn't bother replanting those and it's something we would look at doing again, but if we do do it, it would be based around pick your own," he said.
"We would be less inclined to do it if there were laws in place preventing people on our property."
A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Planning and Environment said the draft policy aimed to balance the potential impacts on neighbours and roads with the ability for individual farms to diversify and simplify planning rules.
"We will continue to work through the policy with farmers, councils and businesses, to make sure we get it right, so agritourism is easier and clearer for all."
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