Remote school kids get pot-to-plate veggie education

02-Oct-2017

From left: Jon Jon Singh, CDU Horticulture lecturer Emily Hinds, assistant teacher Ses Zaro, Liam Woodie and Alithia Jorrock plant aibika in a freshly prepared veggie patch at Belyuen School. Photo: Julianne Osborne

From left: Jon Jon Singh, CDU Horticulture lecturer Emily Hinds, assistant teacher Ses Zaro, Liam Woodie and Alithia Jorrock plant aibika in a freshly prepared veggie patch at Belyuen School. Photo: Julianne Osborne


Charles Darwin University researchers are helping to promote growing fresh produce and educating kids about nutrition with a vegetable garden project in a remote Northern Territory community.

Belyuen School, about 120km west of Darwin, is the first Indigenous community to trial growing the tropical spinach-like vegetable aibika, as part of a scheme known as “the PNG Veggie Project”.

CDU Horticulture lecturer Emily Hinds said the project promoted the nutritional, social and economic benefits of traditional vegetables in Papua New Guinea and Northern Australia.

“People in remote communities have limited access to nutritious fresh vegetables and fruit,” she said.

“They are increasingly eating more energy-dense store bought food and less traditional foods due to reduced contact with homelands and bush tucker.”

Ms Hinds said the project aimed to understand and increase the role of traditional vegetables for smallholder growers in isolated parts of PNG, and how this information could be transferred into remote school and community gardens in the NT.

“We not only teach children how to plant aibika, but also how to cook it,” she said. “A pot-to-plate education is vital when encouraging families to incorporate a new food in their diets.” 

Project leader and CDU Horticulture lecturer Tania Paul said a successful trial at Belyuen could result in expansion into other remote Indigenous communities across the Top End.

Darwin and rural primary schools including Anula, Girraween, Berry Springs and Middle Point also have been involved in the $1.2 million project, which was funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.