Yirrkala Gardens and Banana Farm
This garden story was provided to the RIG Network in August 2009, through the RIG Network story. If you have a garden story, please fill out the survey by clicking here.
Yirrkala is a well-known community in East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, 18 km South-East from the large mining town of Nhulunbuy. It has a population of about 800 people, of whom nearly all are Yolngu and also acts as a regional centre for a further 800 people living in surrounding indigenous homelands.
Yirrkala Gardens is a commercial farm run by Bunuwal Industrial (Bunuwal Industrial phone 08 89873433) a local indigenous company. Soane Wainiqolo lives in the Yirrkala community and has worked in the Yirrkala Gardens for 6 months in 2007/08.
Yirrkala’s Gardens and Banana plantations began in the early 1960′s under the Methodist Mission Board and is now run by the Bunuwal Association.
Garden participants are paid CDEP wages and the produce is distributed by selling to the nearby communities and mining town (Nhulunbuy) per order.
The growing season in Yirrkala runs from Jan-Mar and Nov-Dec each year and the garden relies upon irrigation from dam and billabong water to grow banana, pawpaw, lemons, cassava, sweet potato,
Yirrkala gardens don’t currently include any bush tucker.
According to Soane, Yirrkala is a successful commercial project which only needs better marketing and to diversify into other produce. There is also plenty of water available which is the key to the farm.