Wangkatjungka Remote Community Gardens
This garden story was provided to the RIG Network in August 2009, through the RIG Network Garden Profile survey. If you have a garden story, please fill out the survey by clicking here.
Wangkatjungka, is a remote community situated 100km south-east of Fitzroy Crossing in far north Western Australia. It has a population of about 450 people, and is located on an excision of Christmas Creek Station and is a settlement of predominately Wangkatjungka speaking people. Prior to 1971 and the introduction of equal wages, the people used to work on nearby cattle stations. The community moved to its current location when dwellings, a shop and a clinic were constructed in the late 1970s. (source: Aboriginal Art Online website http://www.aboriginalartonline.com/regions/wangkatjungka.php)
Wangkatjungka has a range of food production activities including household gardens, a School Garden (which was established in August 2007 by Percy Cox), and community landscaping to include food plants and shade trees.
Peter Crawford, a teacher at Wangkatjungka Remote Community school designed and built the school garden. His duties for the garden include teaching, organisation and management.
The School Garden participants share their knowledge with the community through involvement with the establishment of community home gardens, and planting of shade trees in the community.
Six volunteer participants work in the garden, which distributes food to around 80 people – the school children eat the school garden produce and home garden produce is eaten by the respective families.
The Wangkatjungka growing season runs from April to November each year and the garden relies upon bore water irrigation to grow sweet corn, tomatoes, beans, carrots, pumpkins, watermelons, passionfruit, pawpaws, sweet potatoes, and flowers (gladioli, zinnia). The school garden does not currently produce any bush tucker.
The Wangkatjungka School Garden has been very popular and successful and is the inspiration for the establishment of home gardens. All school students are involved from kindergarten to year 12 and all love the garden and especially the rule” If you grow it, you eat it!” It is easy to see how this garden fosters a positive attitude towards fresh food.
According to Peter Crawford the high school students like going into the community to plant gardens. They are seen by their people as doing good work for their community. This builds up students self respect and their desire to do more good things for the community.