NT Food Gardens Research Project – from RIG News#12
News from the Network – Research
NT Food Gardens Website
Anthea Fawcett – for RIG News #12
A year or so ago, a colleague and I were talking about ‘wouldn’t it be great’ if there was a resource that mapped what food gardens and related infrastructures are ‘out there’ (past and present!) in remote communities, so that wheels don’t keep being reinvented and people could better connect with one another to share key tips, knowledge of existing garden infrastructure in communities and contacts. As a result, RIG Network developed the SCOPE project – a project that aims to draw together strategic baseline data pertinent to local and regional food systems across the top end. A few months later I met with Andy Hume to talk about research ideas around food gardens that could help make a practical difference to people wanting to establish gardens.
The great news is that Andy has developed a research proposal to develop a database and map of food gardens across top end NT and he is about to get underway. RIG Network fully supports the work that Andy is doing and we’ll be providing support – such as contacts, results from garden surveys we undertook in 2009 – to him as he progresses the project and we look forward to his research outcomes that will complement key aspects of the SCOPE project.
Andy’s Project Aims
The project aims to make it easer to set up and operate food gardens in the top end by linking those people working on the ground with those who have the knowledge, skills, materials and financial resources to help, and by linking remote and city based people and gardens.
It will do this using a website that will act as an online phone book and information site to help those involved in gardens to access other people, gardens, organisations, programs and resources doing the same thing. The website will utilise a user friendly interface that enables people to search for information relevant to them. As part of the website development, stakeholder groups drawn from representative parts of the NT gardening community will be consulted in order to ensure the website reflects the needs of users.
It is hoped that through improved communication and information dissemination more new gardens will be facilitated and existing gardens will function at a higher level, producing more nutritious locally grown food, improving diet, providing more employment, and contributing to closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non Indigenous Territorians.
Many remote food gardens have been started in the NT, set up and managed by a plethora of people, communities and organisations. In many instances gardens have been started without proper consultation, support, and knowledge transfer to the intended beneficiaries. Some of these enterprises have been more successful than others, and many enterprises have failed. Despite these problems, people continue to source funding to start new gardens. There is a real need for increased support to help these enterprises succeed and this project aims to provide information that will provide practical support.
The website is being set up with funding provided through a General Practice Education and Training Academic Post under the supervision of Dr Julie Brimblecombe at the Menzies School of Health Research
Dr Andy Hume is a GP registrar who has been living in the Northern Territory on and off since 2006. His undergraduate tertiary education is in agriculture and he has an ongoing personal interest in horticulture and permaculture. He holds a Bachelor of Science at Adelaide University and a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS) at Flinders University.
His work as a junior doctor within the NT hospital system alerted him to the massive burden of malnutrition and associated lifestyle disease within NT communities and the potential to improve this through the promotion and facilitation of community grown fresh fruit and vegetables. Having acquired funding through the Federal General Practice training body General Practice Education and Training (GPET), Andy is undertaking an Academic Post under the supervision of Dr Julie Brimblecombe, a leading researcher and public health nutritionist at the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin. The Academic Post revolves around setting up the website that aims to make it easier to set up and run food gardens in the top end of NT by improving communication between people, gardens, organisations, programs and resources.
Inspiring stuff! If you’d like to contact Andy or contribute to his research he can be contacted by email:
ahume1980 [at] gmail.com.
Dr Andy Hume’s food gardens research project NT Food Gardens Research – Dr Andy Hume, RIG News No 12
RIG News is written and produced by Anthea Fawcett for RIG Network.