WHEN you begin peeling back the unique layers of benefit that a large-scale community garden in Katherine will provide, it needs to be asked why no one has tackled the concept with gusto until now.
The Katherine Women’s Organic Association may be championing its innovative vision to advantage the local community but, if the hydroponic project proves to be as successful as stakeholders hope, it will have impacts that reach far beyond a block of dirt in the middle of a Top End town.
For too long, the phrase food security has conjured up images of malnourished people in distant countries decimated by famine, economic decline or civil war.
The uncomfortable reality is that, especially in the Northern Territory, we only have to look as far as our backyard to bear witness to thousands who are unable to access fresh, affordable fruit and vegetables for myriad reasons.
Until recently, viable community gardens were the domain of chai-sipping, tofu-chewing inner urban dwellers, who used them as a ready source of self-adulation and hip but unpronounceable leafy greens.
The difference a sustainable and local garden would make to indigenous communities that struggle to get their hands on quality produce due to geographic and climatic hurdles is incalculable.
A garden would have a similar impact in small towns in parts of Australia ravaged by drought.
In addition to providing a source of fruit and vegetables, projects like the one in Katherine have the potential to deliver obvious economic and social wins for communities.
It is time for us – and all levels of government – to acknowledge that, when considered from a micro perspective, it might be possible to begin securing Australia’s food future, one community at a time.