In this column, VegNET – New South Wales Regional Development Officer Sylvia Jelinek introduces readers to the Greater Sydney Demonstration Farm, located on the Richmond Lowlands. Since its expansion in 2019, the farm has become a valuable learning site for growers and NSW vegetable industry members as well as hosting a number of Hort Innovation-funded investments.

In 2019, Greater Sydney Local Land Services launched its newly expanded demonstration farm, located at the site of Western Sydney University’s historic River Farm on the Richmond Lowlands.

Part of the original Hawkesbury Agricultural College and more than twice the size of the previous site, the farm demonstrates best practice in land management, agricultural production and biosecurity.

The Greater Sydney Demonstration Farm now has several industry and university funded trial sites and has been VegNET – New South Wales’ secret weapon of success and an instrumental tool for Hort Innovation. It sits along the Hawkesbury River, among family run vegetable farms and other horticultural enterprises.

After two years of successful trials, projects and events, the farm is recognised by vegetable growers as an ideal meeting place for workshops and showcasing research trials.

Additionally, it brings together the latest university and industry research in agriculture, natural resource management and biosecurity. Designed to support cross-sector collaboration and innovation, the farm is designed to cater for growers, producers, educational institutes and landholders.

Having hosted up to more than 100 events with thousands of landholders since its official opening, the Greater Sydney Demonstration Farm is a success story.

Most recently, the farm hosted a recovery workshop for vegetable growers after many were affected by the March 2021 floods.

Learning in the field at the VegNET R&D forum in October 2019.

Delivering wide-ranging benefits

The Greater Sydney Demonstration Farm is a great asset to VegNET – NSW, bringing growers together for high value, collaborative learning experiences.

It is seen as ‘neutral territory’, and ideal for hosting field days and workshops for vegetable growers as well as supporting industry by presenting research outcomes and industry innovations. It means growers can view trials outside of their own farm – avoiding unwanted costs, crops failures or technological failures.

The farm emulates a typical farm set up in the Sydney Basin to encourage best practice in sustainable and profitable land management. The trials demonstrate new techniques, opportunities and the latest research available to vegetable growers and industry.

An EnviroVeg self-assessment has been carried out at the Greater Sydney Demonstration Farm to establish a baseline under the programs guidelines and improvement targets to achieve. A strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund, the EnviroVeg Program (VG16063) will assist growers in self-assessing and improving their on-farm practices.

Greater Sydney Local Land Services has showcased the latest innovation in precision agriculture in robotics and irrigation, as well as best practice biosecurity and other on-farm issues incorporating weed control and soil improvement techniques.

Projects demonstrated and extended to stakeholders at the farm include:

The vegetables grown at the Greater Sydney Demonstration Farm are donated to Foodbank Australia, helping Australians who are experiencing food insecurity. To date, in excess of 40 tonnes have been donated.

“We pride ourselves on freshness. We usually pick the produce on the morning of pick-up,” Farm Manager Peter Conasch said.

University students pictured enjoying a day at the Greater Sydney Demonstration Farm.

Find out more

Please contact VegNET – NSW Regional Development Officer Sylvia Jelinek from Greater Sydney Local Land Services on 0427 086 724 or

VegNET 3.0 is a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund.

This project has been funded by Hort Innovation using the vegetable research and development levy and contributions from the Australian Government.

Project Number: VG21000

Cover image: Researchers rest in the shade at the Greater Sydney Demonstration Farm.