Resimac has launched a partnership with not-for-profit Food Ladder to support it in its mission to provide horticulture, food security and nutritional education to schools in remote, regional and disadvantaged communities.
Food Ladder delivers this work by providing communities with hydroponic greenhouses and specialised training so they can grow fruit and vegetables, and set up their own social enterprises should they so wish.
Each hydroponic greenhouse enables plants to be grown in a solution of water and nutrients to accelerate their growth, which are reportedly five times more productive than traditional farming methods when operating at full capacity.
Non-bank lender Resimac has now partnered with the group, which will initially see Food Ladder’s greenhouse systems installed in three schools over the next 12 months.
Teaching healthy habits from a young age is one of the avenues the not-for-profit is pursuing to achieve its goal. Food Ladder’s School System range of growing systems combine a climate-controlled hydroponic greenhouse with STEM-aligned educational resources that teach children about horticulture, nutrition and commercial enterprise.
Earlier this month, the first greenhouse was installed in Waterford West State School, a primary school in the City of Logan, Queensland, where 12 per cent of the students have an Indigenous background and 32 per cent have a language background other than English.
The system will be incorporated into the year 5 curriculum and the students will be charged with running and looking after the greenhouse. The school tuckshop will also be using the fresh produce in the lunches they offer, providing a complete paddock-to-plate experience for the students.
Scott McWilliam, CEO of Resimac, said the primary schools project formed a key part of the ‘social’ factor within Resimac’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) framework.
“Food Ladder’s vision of empowering communities with the tools to stop hunger and malnourishment, using Australian research, innovation and design, is truly inspirational. We are honoured to be one of a select few organisations that Food Ladder has chosen to partner with to help bring this dream to life,” Mr McWilliam said.
“The next generation of Australians face a number of challenges, but none more fundamental than food security and malnutrition. We want to help set our kids up for success in the future and give them the tools to be able to make better choices, which means a holistic approach that focuses on both healthy bodies and healthy minds.”
Kelly McJannett, CEO and co-founder of Food Ladder, said the systems were teaching kids the value of nutrition and healthy eating – which she said could potentially influence the children’s families and broader community as well.
“Many of the kids we work with don’t get a lot of opportunities, and unfortunately, this can perpetuate the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage. As well as the nutritional benefits, our Food Ladder systems are giving kids a much-needed sense of pride, achievement and ownership,” she said.
“We’ve seen kids with learning difficulties respond extremely positively to the hands-on practical lessons that we offer through our online platform, which currently holds two years’ worth of STEM-aligned teaching resources. We have teachers on staff who are writing lesson plans and whole-term curriculums to support the Food Ladder systems, with new content being added all the time.”
Ms McJannett said Food Ladder was “delighted” to being work closely with the non-bank lender for the schools project.
“It has been an absolute pleasure being on this journey with Resimac, who have been supporting us since 2018. Far from being an arm’s length relationship, their involvement has continued to expand and evolve. Resimac’s resources and support have been instrumental in helping us roll these systems out to more schools in Australia,” she said.
Resimac will be working with Food Ladder to implement the greenhouse systems in two more schools across Perth and Sydney in 2022.