A survey of remote Aboriginal horticulture and community gardens in the Northern Territory

A survey of remote Aboriginal horticulture and community gardens in the Northern Territory Journal Article

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health

  • Author(s): Hume, Andrew, O'Dea, Kerin, Brimblecombe, Julie K.
  • Published: 2013
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
  • Volume: 37
  • ISBN: 1326-0200

Abstract: A significant proportion of the excess mortality and morbidity found in Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is attributable to poor fruit and vegetable consumption. Fruit and vegetables are more expensive in remote Northern Territory (NT) Aboriginal communities than in larger centres and Aboriginal people eat less fruit and vegetables in these places. In overseas settings, community food gardens have been linked to increased fruit and vegetable intake. There has been a call to investigate and promote remote Aboriginal community gardens in Australia. Our study aimed to locate and survey all remote Aboriginal community food gardens (gardens) in the NT ‘top end'. During 2011, a snowball search for gardening stakeholders was undertaken within the boundaries of the Northern Land Council. A subsequent call was made to every remote or very remote locality within the survey area to locate community‐oriented gardens involving at least one Aboriginal person or organisation. This resulted in 112 phone calls to 78 of 86 (91%) of localities in the area. Thirty‐one gardens (four planned, 24 running and three dormant) were found. Eighteen were visited and surveyed for their funding sources, profitability, manager Aboriginality, manager pay, number of Aboriginal and non‐Aboriginal people employed, garden area, crops grown, and produce distribution. Two planned, 15 running, and one dormant garden were surveyed. The greatest number of running gardens was found in East Arnhem Shire (10) followed by Victoria Daly Shire (7). Fifteen of the 18 surveyed gardens were funded either wholly or partially through the Community Development and Employment Program (CDEP). Two ‘for profit’ enterprises were surveyed. One was a large farm owned by an Aboriginal corporation but not employing any Aboriginal people. The other was a CDEP farm employing Aboriginal people and managed by a non‐Aboriginal manager. It produced commercial quantities for regional sale. Both enterprises were in less remote areas with access to commercial markets and transport hubs, and neither produced food for local consumption. Of 15 running gardens surveyed, three had paid Aboriginal managers, one had an unpaid Aboriginal manager and 10 had paid non‐Aboriginal managers. There were no gardens with unpaid non‐Aboriginal managers. There were 98 Aboriginal and 17 non‐Aboriginal workers surveyed as employed in gardens. One of the ‘for profit’ farms employed no Aboriginal manager or workers, but was funded by an Aboriginal corporation. The total surveyed garden area was 70.7 hectares, with a minimum area of 0.005 hectares (50 square metres), median of 0.75 hectares and a maximum area of 40 hectares. Forty‐seven varieties of fruit and vegetables were identified. Watermelon, banana, pawpaw, passionfruit and mango were the most frequently grown fruits, and sweet potato, tomato, cucumber, pumpkin and sweet corn were the most commonly grown vegetables. Twelve of the 15 running and surveyed gardens reported the consumption of produce either in the garden, at home or in the broader community (Table 1).

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Suggested Citation
Hume, Andrew, O'Dea, Kerin, Brimblecombe, Julie K., 2013, A survey of remote Aboriginal horticulture and community gardens in the Northern Territory, Volume:37, Journal Article, viewed 13 June 2024, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=24542.

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