Tasmanians band together to tackle insecurity with community farm

This article was originally published on this site

A group of passionate Tasmanians have a bold plan for their humble community garden plot and it all starts with 60 fruit trees.

The Community Fruit Loops project is a multi-faceted joint venture being undertaken by the Country Women’s Association, Live Well Tasmania and the Devonport Seed Library.

The groups hope to address regional food security and, while they’re at it, encourage social connections.

The trees will take three to five years to grow, after that, their yield will be distributed to local food banks.

What’s unique about this project is that it doesn’t stop there.

Any spare produce will go back to the CWA to make jams, chutneys and sauces that will also go to food banks.

A garden plot with freshly planted trees.A garden plot with freshly planted trees.
Sixty fruit trees have been planted on the Oldina community farm patch.(Supplied: Country Women’s Association)

Project leader Tanya Brooks, the president of the online branch of CWA Tasmania, says she is excited to work with so many volunteer-run organisations on such an exciting project.

She said Fruit Loops was a response to the Tasmanian government’s 2021-24 food strategy, which stated that 26 per cent of Tasmanians were food insecure and that the state was too reliant on emergency food banks.

“That’s quite a startling figure,” Ms Brooks said.

A packed lunch for a picnic.A packed lunch for a picnic.
The Country Women’s Association packed an impressive lunch for the volunteers at Oldina farm.(ABC Northern Tasmania: Cassandra Power)

“When you look at where things are at economically, at the moment people are really struggling to put food on the table — particularly fresh food.

“The cost of living is rising and, from the CWA perspective, if we can make a small contribution to our community to help them access fresh food, then that’s a wonderful project to be involved with.”

A plastic box containing packets of seeds.A plastic box containing packets of seeds.
The Devonport Seed Library has hundreds of varieties to choose from.(ABC Northern Tasmania: Cassandra Power)

Seed library another branch

One of the Fruit Loops tree planters is Danuta Baran-Taitis, who runs the Devonport Seed Library from her house.

She collects, cleans and packages seeds, then places them in drawers on her front porch for the public to come and take for free.

From a small number of seeds, she has now grown the library to include more than 400 varieties.

All interested members will be given a fruit tree to plant in their own backyard. When it is grown, they can use whatever produce they need and return the spare to the Library to provide another access point for people who need fresh food.

“That’s why it’s called Fruit Loops,” Danuta says.

A  young lady with her mum and son at a picnic table on a farm.A  young lady with her mum and son at a picnic table on a farm.
Organisers say the volunteers love “toiling away” on the farm.(ABC Northern Victoria: Cassandra Power)

While the planting is about long-term sustainability and the pay-off feels far away, the Oldina Farm has immediate joy for local kids.

Live Well Tasmania project manager Candice Johnson is at Oldina planting trees with her husband and two little boys.

Candice says the plot hosts groups of homeschooled students of all ages.

“They come to the farm and build obstacle courses and learn bush survival skills, or they can do the walking track,” she said.

“It’s a community space and kids come together to enjoy some time on the farm.

A woman in the garden digging.A woman in the garden digging.
Volunteers are busy planting fruit trees for a long-term food sustainability project in Oldina.(Supplied: Country Women’s Association)

Edible native garden

While the fruit trees grow, work will begin on a Tasmanian native garden at the farm.

Ms Brooks says this is to help educate locals on traditional foods and bush tucker.

“It’s really exciting and such a worthwhile project to be involved with,” she said.

“Certainly, our members are very passionate about making a practical difference in our community.

“To be able to come out onto a community-owned farm and spend an afternoon with people, toiling away together, really there’s nothing better.”