Sunday, 21 April 2024

    Fresh food for remote communities

    Three years ago, in the remote community of Milingimbi in the Northern Territory residents struggled to find fresh fruit and vegetables, ABC News.

    It started with pawpaw but has increased to cassava and sweet potato and there are plans to grow mangoes and coconuts

    A parliamentary inquiry is examining high food prices and access to fresh food in remote communities

    But now the community has come up with a way to supplement the supply, while also passing on traditional practices.

    The Milingimbi community has detailed its initiative in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into the challenges faced in remote communities in accessing affordable and fresh food.

    The inquiry has so far been told of problems including rotten meat being sold in one remote NT store.

    Milingimbi, an island off the coast of Arnhem Land, gets most food and goods delivered by barge, which picks up food from Darwin on a Friday and delivers it on the following Wednesday.

    “The delay means having fresh fruit is a big challenge for us,” said Ruth Nalmakarra, the chair of the board of the Milingimbi Art and Culture Centre.

    Several years ago, organisers at the centre came up with the idea to develop a community garden.

    “We ordered a few seeds for online. And then what started as a few pawpaw trees has gone a little bananas,” Ms Nalmakarra said.

    “Last year we got 100 pawpaws from our garden. This year we are expecting more than 200,” she said.

    The garden has spread from growing pawpaws to sweet potato and cassava.

    “Our people are eating too much from the shop. We need fresh food from the saltwater and bush. Food that is harvested fresh and has taste. We Yolngu people grew up with that food when there was no shop. I grew up and learnt from my grandparents, mother and father to gather food. I still go out and gather wild food with my sisters,” Ms Nalmakarra said.


    The remote NT community of Milingimbi faced a shortage of fresh food. Now, it has found a solution (ABC News)


    This year’s harvest is expected to bring in more than 200 pawpaw, as well as sweet potato and cassava.(Supplied: Milingimbi Art And Culture Centre)