Ms JENNY AITCHISON (Maitland) (19:42:25): I congratulate Slow Food Hunter Valley and the Maitland-Rutherford Guides on their action to preserve threatened Indigenous local land food species through the establishment of a native food garden.

Slow Food and Guides volunteers recently gathered on the grounds of the Maitland-Rutherford Guide Hall in St Andrews Street, which had been landscaped and prepared for planting. Together, in rainy conditions—perfect for plants but not so pleasant for humans—they settled at least 25 threatened Indigenous local species into the soil of their new garden.

The garden will be maintained and harvested by a team of 20 volunteers drawn from both the Guides and Slow Food. The team will also monitor and document the plants' growth rates, water requirements, nutrient uptakes, flowering, food production and places in the ecosystem alongside insects and birdlife.

The garden is a Slow Food Ark of Taste project made possible through Federal funding provided by member for Paterson, Meryl Swanson. The fruits of the plot will be accessible to the people of Maitland and its surroundings.

On behalf of our community, I thank Slow Food and the Maitland-Rutherford Guides for acting to ensure the protection and preservation of biodiversity in our area, and Meryl Swanson for supporting them.