E-News Issue 4
Monday, 07 June 2021
Charles Darwin University
The Ripple Effect on display at the SeaBreeze Festival at Nightcliff foreshore.
The Ripple Effect on display at the SeaBreeze Festival at Nightcliff foreshore.

Ripple Effect builds awareness of tropical food security

Students, researchers and staff from Charles Darwin University (CDU) recently contributed to The Ripple Effect at Darwin’s annual SeaBreeze Festival with a series of presentations.

More than 450 people attended the presentations, which were sponsored by Inspired NT, an organisation that promotes relationships between science and society.

Attendees viewed environment-themed workshops and talks on topics including forest gardens and food security, wild rice, and tiny groundwater organisms known as stygofauna.

Inspired NT’s Brittany Hayward-Brown said the aim of The Ripple Effect was to generate a ripple of positive environmental actions in our community by showcasing fascinating initiatives that promote sustainable living and our natural environment.

“It was great to see people from a wide variety of backgrounds talking about native species, cultural connections to food, and how we can enhance tropical food diversity and resilience,” Ms Hayward-Brown said.

CDU Professor Jenny Davis, from the Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods, spoke about results from the first survey of stygofauna in the Beetaloo and Roper River regions.

“These tiny blind shrimps do a big job by eating microbes that are harmful to humans, helping to purify our underground water,” Professor Davis said.

“If we over-pump, it could kill off these essential creatures and that could result in us spending additional money to filter our water.”

CDU Senior Lecturer of Environmental Science Penny Wurm spoke on the day about native rice as an important food source.

“Australian native rice is widespread and abundant on floodplains across the tropical north, especially in the NT,” Ms Wurm said.

“It’s a fascinating wild grass with potential as a commercially available high-value, low-volume food. However, there are barriers to overcome moving from a wild grass to a commercially available product. These are the issues we are tackling.”

Dr. Kamal Melvani, also from the Research Institute of Environment and Livelihoods at CDU, gave a talk on the day and a tour the following morning at the Lakeside Drive Community Garden where she has been assisting with rehabilitation of the site, planting a forest garden to increase food security and improve biodiversity values.  

CDU also contributed audio services to the SeaBreeze Festival. Six live production students set up the sound system for the World Music Stage under the guidance of Michael Vernau, VET Lecturer in Technical Production.