VACCA partner with Food Ladder and ACAH to launch new community development program

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Friday 3 October 2019

The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) has partnered with not-for-profit organisation Food Ladder and the Australian College of Agriculture and Horticulture (ACAH) to launch a new community development program in Melbourne on 12 October 2019.

VACCA CEO Muriel Bamblett AO says “We are very excited to partner with Food Ladder and the Australia College of Agriculture and Horticulture over the next twelve months to upskill members of our community through this exciting new program.”

The program will provide nutritional food and job-ready skills to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people using the new Food Ladder system, which is based inside a quarter acre hydroponic food growing system in Werribee South.  It will have the capacity to harvest 3,600 crops every three weeks.

Produce grown during from the program will provide much needed food security to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their families, as well as help fund the program, with the fruit and vegetables being made available to local restaurants and distributors, and at a pop-up store onsite.

The program will provide the Aboriginal community an opportunity to be involved in a bush food scheme through its focus on growing foods native to the region within the Werribee system and surrounding grounds.

Food Ladder CEO Kelly McJannett is proud to participate and believes that “Not only will it provide the local community with nutritional produce, it will also give Aboriginal participants hands on business experience, from growing and harvesting produce to selling and distributing goods.”

As part of the Food Ladder program, weekly accredited and non-accredited classes will be offered to community members where they can receive a certification in horticulture, as well gain job-ready skills in the agriculture industry.

“Horticulture is both an art and science that embraces technology and sustainability,” Aboriginal people have practiced land use, have an innate understanding of native plants and gardens, land management and regeneration and bring to this partnership an Aboriginal knowledge about and use of native plants of various kinds says ACAH CEO Alvin Gopal.

“This program will provide students with an understanding of basic horticultural practices and an opportunity to learn essential skills such as being able to grow and harvest their own produce sustainably. Graduates can also expect to find employment in entry level roles as a horticultural tradesperson within a nursery, farm or other horticultural enterprise.” adds Alvin.

Participants will be provided with appropriate clothing and equipment to undertake the program, and volunteer drivers will be available to transport participants to and from class, ensuring the initiative is helping those who need it most.

VACCA, Food Ladder and ACAH are committed in their efforts to implement and deliver this initiative as part of VACCA’s Koorie Wellbeing Ways community development project over the next 12 months, as it embodies the principle of Aboriginal self-determination in improving health, wellbeing and safety.

The Food Ladder system in Werribee South, a suburb 32km south-west of Melbourne’s CBD, will be Food Ladder’s first iteration in Victoria, following on from its success in the Northern Territory, India, Uganda and soon Bhutan.

For enquiries, please email communications@vacca.org

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