Mornington Island is one of Queensland’s most remote communities, located in the south-east corner of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The Islands and surrounding seas are the traditional lands and waters of the Lardil, Yangkaal, Kaiadilt and Gangalidda peoples who have successfully and sustainably managed their land and waters for millennia.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are 67% more expensive on Mornington compared to in Brisbane, due to long and complicated supply chains. The Island’s geographic isolation, and challenging climate conditions, mean that supply chains are prone to disruption, impacting the availability and quality of healthy food. Together, these factors, amongst others, impact the food security, health, and wellbeing of the Mornington community.

While community members utilise rich natural food sources through fishing, gathering, and hunting, establishing a Market Garden to supply affordable fresh produce is a long-standing priority of the Mornington Shire Council.

“Our community needs to become more sustainable – environmentally, socially, and economically.  A market garden will assist our people – young and old – to develop important lifelong skills, growing and maintaining a range of green, healthy crops, all year round.  A garden will bring people together.  It’ll also help by enabling us to supply produce directly to our local store, reducing food miles, whilst ensuring freshness and quality.  We won’t have to rely on mainland supply chains so much and can work towards becoming independent.” – Mayor Kyle Yanner, Mornington Shire Council.

In December 2021, Health and Wellbeing Queensland, Arup Australia and Mornington Shire Council were successful in a joint bid to Arup’s Global Challenge Community Engagement Program to progress the community’s aspirations for a commercial Market Garden. Using a place-based approach, the partnership developed a Feasibility Study to understand the options and considerations for an effective, long-term market garden service for community. Development of the Feasibility Study included community engagement, detailed market analysis and comprehensive specialist agronomy studies (undertaken by Peak Services in partnership with Farmacist, with the support of the National Indigenous Australians Agency).

“We’re really privileged that specialists’ partners have developed a feasibility study. The study’s findings will ensure that we set off on the right foot and that we develop a customised implementation plan that will be genuinely successful.” – Mayor Kyle Yanner, Mornington Shire Council

The Study’s findings support the community to continue developing a self-determined agriculture system. To build on the project, resources to deliver critical elements of the Market Garden, such as infrastructure, are needed. Once established, a Market Garden holds great potential to deliver food security and economic development on Mornington Island through a sustainable, community-driven supply of fresh fruit and vegetables.

“We’re really excited about the health, wellbeing, and social connections that our planned market garden will create in the future. Right now, we’re scouting for the right site and then we’ll secure much needed funds from the government to build the market garden infrastructure.” – Mayor Kyle Yanner, Mornington Shire Council.