Living Local in the Kimberley

Jennifer: Living remote makes obtaining fresh produce difficult. The closest supermarket to some communities in the Kimberley region is several hours drive away. In addition, much of the produce available has been transported from Perth, and is priced accordingly. During the last couple of weeks, as part of Scitech’s Aboriginal Education Program tour, I have visited several remote schools whose students are engaging in “living local” practices. These schools have established flourishing sustainable gardens.

At Wangkatjunka community, the high school students cultivate an impressive range of fruits and vegetables, including pawpaws, watermelons, sweet corn, broccoli and French beans. The Wangkatjunka high school students constructed the garden’s fencing and irrigation themselves, and now continue to cultivate its twelve rows of vegetables. The students recently cut open their first watermelon, and have harvested the sweet corn to eat with their families. They have since begun constructing a vegetable garden within the community itself. In the next few weeks, work will begin on a new landscaping project. The students will plant several hundred African Mahogany trees, providing shade and a windbreak for the community.

The Department of Agriculture and Food of Western Australia has developed the “Community Gardens” project, which recognised the efforts by the Bidyadanga community.  This community, located south of Broome, has a history of cultivating fresh produce dating back to the early mission days. Over the last ten years, bush tucker plantations, landscaping projects and a nursery have been established.

A highlight of this tour has been picking rocket from the vegetable patch with the students at Wulungarra community school, which we enjoyed in our sandwiches at lunch time. I am not much of a gardener, but I have been inspired to start my own vegie patch when I get back to Perth.

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