The Dandenongs’ Organic Farms and Their Role in Eco-Tourism
The Dandenongs are home to an abundance of native Australian bird, reptile, and mammal species as well as aquatic fauna and flora that thrives within its many waterways and lakes.
This study’s results indicate that resources in consumer landscapes positively impact visitors’ environmental intimacy and identity, leading to pro-environmental behaviors among visitors. As such, organic agriculture-tourism could serve as an effective tool in encouraging eco-friendly behavior among tourists.
1. They Encourage Environmental Intimacy and Environmental Identity
Dandenong Ranges farmers like those at Belgrave Big Dreams Market (pictured), are doing more than just keeping old traditions alive – they’re helping save the environment too! By participating in OzHarvest (which collects unsold produce from markets and retailers and gives it to charities or food rescue organisations), food wastage has been reduced considerably; organic farming methods are promoted at their markets while helping educate the public on how to buy healthy, fresh local food.
The City of Greater Dandenong is facing ongoing environmental degradation due to land clearing for agricultural and urban development, habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as reduced biodiversity values due to land clearing for agriculture and urban development. Furthermore, introduced pest animals continue to have negative effects on native wildlife by preying on species or competing with them for food and shelter and ultimately leading to mortality or reduced population size and viability.
The City is taking measures to safeguard and enhance existing biodiversity values on private land, enhance community awareness, manage threatening processes and increase ecological connectivity throughout its region. In particular, remnant patches of native vegetation in roadside corridors throughout the City including River Red Gums, Manna Gums and Swamp Paperbarks should make an important contribution towards ecological connectivity.
These factors are key in meeting the goals of ecotourism and fostering environmental sustainability. According to Shen and Alcock, visitors with environmental intimacy are better able to develop environmental affection, which in turn fosters place attachment; their perceptions may also change through ecotourism; however their influence path on pro-environmental behaviors and loyalty remains unknown.
To address this problem, this study seeks to explore how organic agriculture-tourism can increase environmental intimacy and identity among visitors. A questionnaire was administered to people visiting organic farms in Hualien-Taitung region of Taiwan for this purpose; data was analysed to test our hypothesis that an environmental landscape can have a profound impact on visitors’ emotional responses and lead to intimacy which in turn breeds pro-environmental behaviors and loyalty from them.
Our research indicates that environmental intimacy and identity can significantly increase visitors’ willingness to buy locally-grown produce, further strengthening pro-environmental behaviors and loyalty. These results demonstrate how organic agriculture-tourism can be an effective tool to foster sustainable development and build a better tomorrow. Governments and the industry should invest in organic agriculture-tourism promotion as an environmental conservation goal, and the results will assist tourism management practitioners in devising effective strategies for developing this form of tourism – which will ultimately benefit both industries, economies, and environments alike.
2. They Help Visitors to Develop Pro-Environmental Behaviors
Dandenongs’ organic farms provide visitors with an opportunity to engage in eco-friendly behaviors. By experiencing and understanding nature, developing an environmental identity, and understanding biospheric value they become more likely to behave in environmentally responsible ways and become loyal patrons of organic agriculture-tourism businesses . Furthermore, studies indicate that loyalty relates directly with perceived benefits and sustainable tourism products .
As well as supporting local communities, organic farms also make significant strides toward protecting the natural environment by using natural soil amendments like compost and mulch to foster healthy plant growth and safeguard our planet.
Farmers use energy-efficient lighting and low carbon heating systems, recycle materials and water resources for reuse, as well as recycle/reuse programs to minimize waste production, participate in community/volunteer programs such as OzHarvest’s food rescue service that diverts excess produce from restaurants/markets/cafes to charity in need. Farmers/their businesses encourage visitors to support local farms/restaurants/cafes/shops by purchasing locally produced produce from them.
Dandenong Ranges are located just an easy train or drive ride away from Melbourne city centre, and offer an idyllic escape into nature. Explore charming hilltop villages and peaceful forest walks; spot charismatic animals such as lyrebirds and wallabies; hike the 1000 Steps or enjoy the waterfalls at Olinda and Sherbrooke Falls within Dandenong Ranges National Park – they all promise an idyllic escape into nature!
Melbourne’s inner-west region, just 20 minutes away, is renowned for picnicking, hiking, and exploring nature. Home to numerous cafes, bed and breakfasts and heritage attractions; organic farmers markets feature unique foods and crafts for boutique shoppers;
City of Greater Dandenong stands out as an innovative leader for food waste recovery and organics recycling in Victoria. Through an exclusive partnership with Veolia, it operates the largest food and garden organics processing facility in Australia’s southern states – turning waste from local residents and businesses into valuable fertiliser for local farms and businesses.
This region also serves as habitat for a range of native animals and plants, such as Sulfur-crested cockatoos, Superb lyrebirds, Laughing kookaburras and Short-beaked echidnas. However, introduced species such as domestic cats, European rabbits and foxes can pose threats to local fauna in The City of Greater Dandenong as they compete with them for food and shelter needs. Removal of native vegetation along roadways for road widening/maintenance purposes can have adverse impacts on biodiversity values in areas with large proportions of River Red Gums/ Manna Gums/ Swamp Paperbarks/ Swamp Paperbarks present among other indigenous plants such as River Red Gums/ Swamp Paperbarks among other indigenous plant life such as River Red Gums/ Swamp Paperbarks etc.
3. They Help Visitors to Develop Loyalty
Dandenongs organic farms foster visitor loyalty by creating an immersive, authentic and locally rooted experience for them to enjoy. Furthermore, local farms also play an essential role in protecting the environment by helping reduce food waste – working alongside charities such as OzHarvest to collect surplus produce from markets and restaurants in order to feed those in need; working alongside primary producers and farmers’ groups as part of promoting sustainable farming methods by offering workshops, farm tours or demonstrations directly to tourists.
Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges boast some of Australia’s finest fresh produce, offering visitors some of Australia’s most delectable artisan cheese, decadent ice creams and specialty fruit to sample; not forgetting pasta, sausages, smoked fish, cured meats, roasted nuts and smoked salmon as regional treats! Plus there are numerous signposted gastronomic hotspots in these two regions as well as the U-Pick Trail where visitors can visit roadside stalls to pick fruit!
Some organic farms provide tours and workshops designed to teach visitors about sustainability, organic production and food preparation. One such tour is Sampran Organic Farm Tours which includes visits to an organic vegetable garden, cooking class and biodynamic composting system of the farm – participants gain knowledge on sustainable practices while harvesting green vegetables for use in an upcoming cooking class!
Whoever’s interested in sustainable and organic farming should visit Demeter Biological Farm on Baxter on Mornington Peninsula. Established by Ileen Macpherson and Ernesto Genoni under guidance from Rudolf Steiner’s Experimental Circle in 1934, Demeter was pioneered as an Australian Biodynamic farming enterprise through their pioneering efforts – using Demeter as its name! They pioneered both organic and biodynamic farming here.
Demeter farmers produce an array of fruit, nuts and flowers without using chemical fertilisers or pesticides; their produce has minimal environmental impact. Demeter also seeks to educate children and adults alike about biodiversity conservation and maintaining healthy ecosystems – emphasis which has enabled Demeter’s long-term survival as an organisation as well as supporting tourism businesses that have increased revenue streams for them.