The first vegetable crops from a customized highly technical greenhouse program at Gunbalanya have been harvested thanks to a new partnership.
Territory business DICE supported the Business plan objectives of the board of Gunbalanya Independent Public School to deliver a Micro-Growbox greenhouse facility for the benefit of the whole community. This new technology allows for sustainable and continuous access of fresh produce to the school and the community.
Managing Director of DICE, Raymond Pratt, knew something needed to be done about access to healthy food in remote communities.
“One of the best ways to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal Territorians is through nutrition.”
“We know that people in remote communities find it difficult to access affordable, fresh food. For people in Gunbalanya this becomes even more challenging during “the Wet” as the community becomes land locked and you get left with the option of battling crocs at Cahills crossing or paying for air freight.”
With funding from the Northern Territory Department of Education and DICE, the greenhouse structure was completed last year with crops planted in October.
DICE provided a horticulturalist and trainer to give full-time support, training and manage the garden and helping teachers shape the curriculum to teach students biology and nutrition around the garden.
While this technology has been rolled out in other remote north Australian communities and in Canada, the USA and Israel, this is the first program of its kind to include a business component for students.
“Students are given access to hands-on nutrition education as well as business skills, trade skills and other useful personal and professional skills for their future,” Mr Pratt said.
The Gunbalanya market garden will produce enough food each week to supply delicious meals for the school canteen and the creche. Horticulturalist Josh Randall is supported by three to four members of the school community in the kitchen to bring the meals to life.
DICE hopes to roll out many more community gardens to build on the success of the Gunbalanya garden.
“The sky really is the limit. This project can easily be replicated across northern Australia; it just takes some time and some investment.
I am so proud of what we have been able to help the people of Gunbalanya achieve.”
It is hoped that the new Micro-Growbox program will expand to include more crops and eventually produce enough food to supply the community store bringing better options, employment opportunities and economic growth.
Media comments: Rod Gonzales 0457 102 229