Across Queensland there is plenty of underutilised space that can be turned into something worthwhile and useful. The Mini Farm Project is planning on doing just that by converting these spaces into urban farms to grow food for those in need.
The charity has established a working farm in Samford and have now set their eyes on Logan with space in Loganlea State High School.
Founder and CEO of The Mini Farm Project, Nick Steiner, said that their vision is to have 100 farms from Brisbane to Cairns within five years.
“The problem that we have in this country is that one in six Australians are going hungry every day, including kids,” said Nick.
“Last year’s statistics from FoodBank was 1.2 million children went hungry, one in six adults were food insecure and went hungry as well.
“We set up operations in 2015 and had smaller farms in Brisbane City with things from grow bag farms to IBC tank garden beds and that was to show people we could grow pretty much anywhere.”
“The idea of what we want to do is actually resolve food insecurity locally in each community and that means putting a farm in with a full-time farmer, volunteers and have a support system around the community as well.
“The produce we grow is given freely to local charities because now they have to pay for it, and I think we can do better.”
To help solve food insecurity, the project aims to have more food in the system, which means they need more farms, give free food, then they put a national framework in place to get waste food from restaurants and shopping centres and work on how it can all be distributed. This is their five-to-10-year vision.
The project is not only focusing on fruits and vegetables, but also to grow and maintain a meat source.
“The goal is that we are going to be the largest provider of free fruit, vegetables, wild edibles, herbs, bush foods, fish, chicken, eggs, and honey,” said Nick.
For the first few years of project, Nick was working full-time in catering and used his time on the side for research and development to find the best way to farm.
During this time, he found that volunteer farms do not work as people are only there for a few hours, they don’t have the skill set needed and a professional full-time farmer is the best way to make the plan a success.
As seen from the current food shortage, such as iceberg lettuce, the excess food that farmers often donate dries up and Ozharvest and FoodBank often go short on supply. The project team have watched this happen and believe that with their network of charity farms, this situation would not continue and people in need will still be able to get the quality food they need.
Bringing the project to Logan has been in conjunction with Nick who met Dr Kimberly Reis, lecturer at Griffith University and Stacey Martin, project coordinator at City Studios, along with Head of Department, AgriBusiness, Loganlea State High School, Jake Whittle.
The statistics show that there are over 47,000 people in the Logan region alone who require daily food assistance meaning that over 141,000 meals per day are needed to keep people from going hungry.
Together they have created the Greater Loganlea Urban Farm and Food Forest Project at Loganlea State High School with their aim to devise shared activities and curriculum between selected Year 10, 11 and 12 students at Loganlea High and first-year university students enrolled in Griffith University’s Urban and Environmental Planning Degree.
To get the Loganlea project off the ground, The Mini Farm Project need to sell 66 garden beds at a cost of $970 each. This will give them enough funding to get the farm operational.
Businesses or individuals who buy a bed will have name plaques attached to their bed with the plate being created by local charity Substation33. There is also a contact management plan attached to ensure all sponsors are given plenty of credit and appreciation for supporting the project.
Two local Logan businesses that have purchased beds and are champions for the project are Extraction Artisan Coffee and Devon Pixies. Both these businesses are holding events to help raise money and promote the project across the city. Cr Tony Hall has also personally invested in the project.
Solving hunger is a huge issue that is everyone’s responsibility and The Mini Farm Project not only plan to do this but also give people the best quality food in the process.