Article by: Hari Yellina
A group of committed Tasmanians has a big plan for their small community garden plot, which begins with 60 fruit trees. The Country Women’s Association, Live Well Tasmania, and the Devonport Seed Library are collaborating on a multi-faceted Community Fruit Loops initiative. The organisations want to improve regional food security while also encouraging social relationships. After three to five years, the trees will bear fruit, which will be handed to local food banks. What makes this effort stand out is that it doesn’t end there. Any leftover produce will be donated to the CWA for use in making jams, chutneys, and sauces that will be distributed to food banks.
Tanya Brooks, president of CWA Tasmania’s online branch, says she’s thrilled to be working on such an interesting initiative with so many volunteer-run organisations. Fruit Loops, she claimed, was a response to the Tasmanian government’s food policy for 2021-24, which indicated that 26% of Tasmanians were food insecure and that the state was overly reliant on emergency food banks. Ms Brooks added, “That’s quite a surprising figure.” “It’s disturbing to consider that a quarter of our people lacks access to fresh, healthy, and nutritional food. “When you consider the state of the economy, people are currently battling to put food on the table, particularly fresh food.
“The cost of living is growing, and if we can give a modest contribution to our community to assist them obtain fresh food, that’s a good cause to be part with,” says CWA. Danuta Baran-Taitis, who manages the Devonport Seed Library from her home, is one of the Fruit Loops tree gardeners. She gathers, cleans, and packages seeds, then arranges them in drawers on her front porch for free distribution. She started with a tiny collection of seeds and has since expanded it to over 400 varieties. Danuta explains, “That’s why it’s called Fruit Loops.” “Because it simply keeps repeating itself.”
While the planting is focused on long-term resilience and the payoff appears to be far off, the Oldina Farm provides instant joy to local children. Candice Johnson, project manager for Live Well Tasmania, is at Oldina with her husband and two young sons, planting trees. Candice claims that the plot is home to various groups of homeschooled students of various ages. She explained, “They come to the farm and build obstacle courses and learn bush survival skills, or they may do the walking track.” “It’s a community area where kids gather to spend time on the farm.” “It’s great for my four-year-old son to meet other kids and learn new things.”
At the site, work on a Tasmanian native garden will begin while the fruit trees develop. This, according to Ms Brooks, is to help residents learn about traditional meals and bush tucker. “It’s such an exciting and worthy initiative to be a part of,” she remarked. “Certainly, our members are committed to creating a positive impact in our community. “There is nothing better than being able to come out onto a community-owned farm and spend an afternoon with folks toiling away together.”