Saibai Mekem gardening project: developing long term sustainability and wellbeing of Saibai community

Friday, 3 June 2016
Paul Kabai
Keri Akiba
Herbert Warusam

Saibai people have a long tradition of subsistence gardening over thousands of years that is intrinsically linked to traditional cultural practices. With the introduction of a community store and regular barge services, traditional garden practises are no longer relied on as a primary source of food. As access to affordable healthy food has declined in recent years, Saibai people recognised a need to look at how they could use their traditional knowledge of gardening with contemporary sustainable horticulture techniques to encourage locally grown produce to improve the health standards of their remote community. In 2015 the Saibai Mura Buway RNTBC in partnership with TSRA initiated the development of the Saibai Mekem garden community project. The project has developed 1Ha small scale farm site 2km south-east of Saibai Village. The project is a whole of community partnership, bring together community members, TSIRC, My Pathways, Rangers and Tagai Collage students to develop a productive nursery and planting of contemporary market garden crops. The project acknowledges the current practices still occurring in some family groups on Saibai and the immense value of traditional knowledge, skills and practices in relation to traditional gardening. It therefore also seeks to encourage the continuation of this and to facilitate the sharing of this knowledge, skill and practice to future generations