Experimental grower hopes to rejuvenate Australian coconut industry

Despite having no soil, no capital, cripplingly high freight costs and a brace of ducks he doesn't know what to do with, a micro-farmer is determined to build a viable agricultural business on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Tony Lacy arrived on the islands 10 years ago with his wife (a park ranger) and their four children.

While most of the expat population came to the islands to fill public service positions, unemployment among the Cocos Malay community is high (around 20 to 30 per cent), and much of the work they find is part-time.

Mr Lacy's background in food science — he was a viticulturalist in his home state of Victoria — got him thinking about how he could put his skills to use on the islands, where all food and supplies are flown in.

"Rather than complaining all the time about what we didn't have, like a sourdough bakery or nice funky cafe or even a farmers' market, I started to say, 'Well, if I am going to survive here in the small town, I have got to start to do things myself'," he recalled.

The next step for Mr Lacy involved taking over the tiny farm established on West Island in the 1980s that had long since been abandoned. It is dotted with fruit trees and has a shade house for hydroponically grown herbs.

Read more at ABC News (Emma Wynne)


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