A visionary plan to create up to 20 jobs in Parndana is being hatched by the Kangaroo Island Community Club.
In July last year the KICC committee first put its proposal forward to establish an aquaponics business in the town, growing vegetables, fruit and farming fish for sale locally.
After further meetings with government, council and community representatives, the plan is moving ahead. While still in its infancy, the new project is generating a groundswell of support.
The KICC was formed in the 1960s by soldier settlers and built its clubroom in 1964 which became known as the Parndana Community Hotel.
The club still earns income from the lease of the Parndana Hotel and has used those funds to improve the hotel and to make grants to community and sports groups.
KICC projects officer Jane Peckover said the club could continue to give grants or it could create something more for the town – employment and income-producing capacity.
The group is receiving support from the Kangaroo Island Futures Authority through networking and contacts and is in early discussions with the Kangaroo Island Council about possible land available for the project.
A delegation has had a “very positive” discussion with SARDI and PIRSA about the types of fish it could farm and produce it could grow.
Ms Peckover estimated the island was importing 200kg of imported cheap fish each week as well as most of its vegetables.
“Horticulture is the gaping hole in the island’s produce. Many of us remember Mr Boettcher selling the vegetables from his Cygnet River farm from a truck in Kingscote,” Ms Peckover said.
“We don’t want to compete with any other island producers.
“It will be a community project but it will have to be commercially viable.
“Residents, tourists and local business owners want locally grown produce so we think there will be a ready market,” Ms Peckover said
The reticulated aquaponics plan involves recycling all water and by-products and may include production of secondary products such as fertiliser, fish and vegetable stock, and fish pellets.
The next step for the committee is to establish a pilot project, which will also act as a research and development facility to test what can be grown.
Kangaroo Island Mayor Jayne Bates said the idea of a community creating its own employment was “brilliant”.
“This is innovative and forward-thinking,” she said.