Not-for-profit organisation Food Ladder has partnered with the Northern Territory Department of Education to launch a cutting edge hydroponic food production system in Tennant Creek, benefiting the local community.
The Food Ladder will be based at the Juno Centre, an agricultural training centre 10kms from Tennant Creek. As part of the alternative education pathway for local students, pupils will visit the custom-designed Food Ladder system each week to access fresh produce and increase their job readiness through STEM, nutrition and horticulture lessons.
“Food security and affordability is a pronounced issue in remote parts of the Northern Territory,” Food Ladder CEO Kelly McJannett explains. “Food is freighted significant distances and sold for a premium. For many local people, fresh nutritional produce is unattainable. That’s why we’re expanding into Tennant Creek, following the successful rollout of the system in Ramingining and Katherine.”
The climate-controlled system will provide the local community of Tennant Creek with commercial quantities of fruit and vegetables. The produce will be used at schools as well as be sold to local businesses.
Tennant Creek High School Principal Maisie Floyd said the Food Ladder will provide fresh food to be used in a variety of curriculum areas in a ‘Paddock to Plate’ approach. “We are very excited to establish the Food Ladder system, as not only will it provide nutritional produce but an alternative education pathway, offering students activity based programs as well as VET courses in horticulture and agriculture.”
Juno Centre Manager Marc Gallagher agrees: “The Food Ladder system provides an outstanding horticultural teaching space for students of all ages. With Food Ladder’s technology, trained Juno Centre staff are able to manage the conditions, adjusting sunlight and temperature levels and avoiding the impact of outside elements such as wind and rain (when we eventually get rain).”
In keeping with increased efforts to cultivate bush foods traditionally grown in the Northern Territory, the Tennant Creek Food Ladder and the surrounding grounds will focus on foods native to the region.
After successful iterations in the Northern Territory, India and Uganda, Food Ladder is well placed to expand into the arid climate of Tennant Creek. Food Ladder will provide food security, education and employment opportunities to the greater community.
For more information, photographs or interview requests contact Food Ladder Communications Manager Olivia Shead on 0412 786 506.