Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Putting Down Roots – Improving Asylum Seeker Food Security at the Grass Roots Level

Earlier this year I came across a very inspiring program being piloted by the Australian Red Cross called ‘Putting Down Roots’. It teaches organic gardening to newly arrived asylum seekers in our own Moreland backyard in Melbourne, Australia. Many asylum seekers experience food insecurity from a lack of funds, as in Australia they are often not permitted to work while their case is being processed, and there may also be a lack of access to culturally appropriate food. The program was initiated to address food insecurity at the grass roots level and does so in what I think is an innovative way. For me it seems to apply permaculture principles, not just to food growing, but to the way the program is structured — it was adaptive to each individual’s needs. It wasn’t just a hand-out of food, or knowledge even, but helped develop what would be the best sustainable solution for each person — both physically in the built gardens and in connecting to the new place people have arrived at.

I spoke with Kim Hutchinson, the manager of the project at Red Cross to get an incite into how the pilot was designed and the outcomes it had- including improving food security and also lessening social isolation. The full article written by Elspeth Brock is available on the Permaculture Research Institute website.
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