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New South Wales | Regional
Ramingining community is a remote town situated approximately 557 kilometres east of Darwin. Due to its location and arid climate, the town has limited access to fresh and nutrient dense produce. To overcome this issue, and improve food security in the area, the Ramingining Food Ladder has been established.
The Food Ladder system operates as a self-sustaining social enterprise and training hub, providing local jobs and a training centre for agriculture technology. The system itself is a large enclosed and climatically controlled growing environment, incorporating high-tech commercial agriculture technology tailored specifically to the unique conditions of the local environment.
Previously, all food in Ramingining was shipped in at great expense, and fresh produce would travel for up to three weeks across 3,000 kilometres, limiting it to a two-day shelf life once it arrived in the community. It was for this reason that a local retailer who runs the only store in the community, ALPA, collaborated with Food Ladder in 2016-2017 to improve access to fresh nutrient dense food.
The concept phase occurred over three months, including community consultation with local leaders and with the board members of three aboriginal corporations that collectively own and operate the system. Through this process, community approval of the project’s vision, mission and method of implementation was obtained.
The project then moved into the development phase where a formal business plan was created that outlined logistics, timelines for build and quotes for costs. In addition, permits for power and water connection were sought, approval from department of lands and planning acquired and funding was obtained. This process occurred over nine months.
Following this was the execution phase of the project build. The manufacture of the system, shipping of materials, and bookings for travel of build team were organised in two months. The build itself took three weeks, and the first harvest was of spinach three weeks after build completion.
With the build complete, system operation and training of the local staff on the ground are the ongoing priorities. Food Ladder’s model is to build solid robust partnerships with a local motivated partner organisation who own the life-supporting infrastructure. To achieve this, Food Ladder supports the partner organisation with training and mentoring until they are able to operate their business independently. This usually takes two years.
Since the installation of the Food Ladder in 2016 Ramingining has seen a 5% increase in fruit and vegetable consumption.