Impact Engineers are working on water security for a community garden in Walgett, NSW. They are installing wicking beds to allow for garden maintenance in the drought-stricken region. Establishing the garden is important for creating a community space, and producing vegetable boxes for the people most in need.
For the past three years, the town of Walgett in NSW has been dealing with the effects of reduced flows in the Namoi and Barwon rivers, which feed the town’s drinking water treatment plant. After months of attempts to conserve supplies through increasingly stringent water restrictions, the town began to access water from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB). The combination of water restrictions and elevated sodium levels in the GAB water presented the community with significant challenges including the community vegetable garden operated by the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (WAMS).
The Dharriwaa Elders Group (DEG), WAMS and Yuwaya Ngarra-li — UNSW’s partnership with the DEG — have launched the Walgett Food and Water for Life project. Through consultations with the community, it was determined that one of the first priorities for the project was to make the WAMS community garden more water-efficient and improve access to nutritious, locally grown food.
Impact Engineers are working alongside the DEG and WAMS to reconfigure the garden beds to become more water efficient and operate effectively on GAB water. After trialling different designs for water efficient wicking beds over the winter, a set of four food beds were installed in 2019 to evaluate different variables on vegetable yield and water efficiency.
The team is working to install over 48 new beds before the start of the harvest season leading into 2021, as well as looking at other design and accessibility options for the garden.