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Mekem garden project grows sustainable communities

The Sustainable Horticulture project – or Mekem Garden (Make your garden) – helps communities throughout Torres Strait gain the skills needed to produce and access a range of fresh food. Established in 2012, the program aims to motivate people to re-engage with the practice of food gardening as a fundamental aspect of traditional daily life in Torres Strait, like it used to be. The project acknowledges the customary practices still occurring

in some parts of the region and the immense value of traditional gardening knowledge and skills.

By establishing more gardens in all communities across Torres Strait, the project reduces reliance on imported foods and minimises compostable waste. Workshops and supplies are regularly provided for communities, and a ‘Horticulture in Schools’ project provides education to the next generation of island custodians. Modern techniques (including aquaponics) allow communities to produce ample fresh food while using very little land or water – both of which are in short supply in many island communities.

By establishing nurseries across the Torres Strait, the project can propagate plants locally for food production or revegetation. Nurseries on Warraber, Poruma, Masig and Erub, for example, propagate local saplings to revegetate and stabilise shorelines in danger of erosion.