Our Amern Mwerr Good Food approach is helping to tackle food and nutrition insecurity in Indigenous communities in a sustainable way.
The Amern Mwerr Good Food program sits at the heart of our vision of healthy futures for arid lands and people. We build gardens to increase people’s access to fresh, affordable food and deliver hands-on gardening, cooking and nutrition education for men, women and children to encourage healthy choices. The premise might be simple, but it addresses two of the main underlying factors leading to poor health in Indigenous communities:
- Food insecurity: a lack of access to affordable fresh food.
- A lack of nutrition education: understanding the importance of eating healthy, as well as a knowledge of how to cook and prepare healthy meals is vital.
The Amern Mwerr way of working is focused on building relationships with local people, listening to their needs and coming up with community-led solutions. Gardens are only established where there is community support and willing participants.
We work with the communities to plan, design and build edible gardens. Our horticulturalist works with people to put up fencing, build shaded areas and establish self-watering ‘wicking beds’. The result is a thriving garden – kale, spinach, sweet peas, cabbage and oranges grow over winter, and tomatoes, corn, kale, lettuce, melons and mulberries over summer.
Community cook-ups are an essential part of the Amern Mwerr approach. A nutrition worker teaches people how to harvest produce from the garden and provides education about the link between nutrition and good health. Working with the community to develop simple, culturally appropriate recipes is more likely to create long lasting changes to eating behaviour.
We provide hands-on training for people to gain skills in building and maintaining gardens, as well as ongoing maintenance support and access to seedlings to ensure food gardens continue to thrive. Building people’s skills increases opportunities for local employment.
Arid Edge have been working with communities in the Utopia Homelands to build food gardens and support healthy lifestyles through Amern Mwerr since since 2009. More recently, Arid Edge have been working to establish eight gardens across community centres in Alice Springs Town Camps.