"We need our own food, to grow our own veggies." Remote Aboriginal food gardens in the Top End of Australia's Northern Territory

Andrew Hume, Kerin O'Dea, Julie Brimblecombe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Objective: Remote Aboriginal community gardens (gardens) frequently operate below their full potential. A set of gardening sustainability principles may improve their planning, operation and long-term sustainability. This paper aims to document the principles of sustainability of non-profit remote Aboriginal community gardens in the Top End of the Northern Territory. Methods: Throughout 2011, gardens in the Top End of the Northern Territory were visited. Interviews and observational data were used to explore the principles of garden sustainability with participants. Subsequent iterative thematic analysis informed development of a set of gardening sustainability principles. Results: Principles of sustainability included effective garden planning; community autonomy, consultation and engagement; growing community vetted crops; employing long-term, effective, culturally sensitive managers; long-term, transparent funding organisations and cycles; garden integration into existing food supply chains; culturally appropriate employment arrangements; and physical aspects of successful gardening. Conclusions: This work uniquely consults gardeners, managers and Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people of both genders in the largest reported study of its type, resulting in new and expanded findings, particularly including new social factors for gardening success. Implications: Expanding the understanding of what makes gardens work to include the important social factors identified here may have merit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-441
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Aboriginal
  • horticulture
  • nutrition

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