Page 30 - Food & Drink Magazine Jan-Feb 21
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                 FRESH PRODUCE
  Success in the shade house
A horticultural initiative to provide Indigenous people with employment and training opportunities in remote Western Australia has potential for other isolated communities. Kim Berry writes.
climates to produce fruit and vegetables, especially during difficult growing seasons.
“The shade house made our project sustainable,” Milloy says, “If there is a cyclone or other potentially damaging weather system coming, the whole structure closes up. We might lose some crops, but we won’t lose the shade house.”
Next to the structure is a
500 square metre packing and storage shed, which also contains the pumps, fogging system, control station and computers that control the atmosphere in the shade house.
Milloy says: “It’s all automated, we can run it from anywhere in the world using our smart phones.”
The roof is made of Kevlar, not cloth, explaining its endurance qualities. Milloy says it can carry the weight of a 150 kilograms.
When the shade house was being built MEEDAC had six local people working on the construction, with five Indigenous workers. There are currently four to six people working the farm, using local people and a mix of experience.
Depending on the time of year, the park produces tomatoes, chillies, eggplant,
 JUST over 20 years ago, the Midwest Employment and Economic Development Aboriginal Corporation (MEEDAC) was incorporated by the Mullewa community in the mid-west northern wheat belt of Western Australia.
It stemmed from community elders’ concern there were no meaningful employment and training opportunities for their people. Projects were developed in Morowa, Yalgoo, Three Springs, and remote communities Kardaloo, Barrel Wells, Mt Wittenoom, Nabawa and Pia Wadjarri.
One of those projects was the development and operation of Innovation Park, a sustainable commercial 2000 hectare farm east of Geraldton.
The joint venture with mining company Karara has also had support from Sodexo, the federal government, and Coles.
Innovation Park general manager Milton Milloy told
Food & Drink Business the initiative started with chickens, free range eggs and vegetable crops, but has developed since then, particularly with the installation of its shade house.
“The shade house is 10,000 square metres and climate controlled. The roof opens and shuts automatically depending
 “ In winter it can be almost ten degrees warmer, then in summer it has a fogging system, which provides a warm, humid climate perfect for growing.”
 30 | Food&Drink business | January/February 2021 |
on sunlight and the time of day. The walls also go up and down independently to let the breeze through,” Milloy explains.
The structure came from Canadian company and retractable roof house specialist Cravo. The company says its technology allows growers in hot
capsicum, pumpkins, and garlic. With some funding from Coles, it is also planning to grow rockmelons and watermelons.
“In winter it can be almost
10 degrees warmer, then in summer it has a fogging system, which provides a warm, humid climate perfect for growing. We

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