With a head of lettuce setting shoppers back at least $7 on Christmas Island, a new initiative to grow sustainable food on a commercial scale is springing to life.

The island's main economic lifeline is phosphate mining, followed closely by its immigration detention centre, but living on the remote territory, which is closer to Jakarta than Perth, still remains pricey.
Most of the island's food supply is imported from the mainland, with freight costs rising sharply in recent years.

Mine operator PRL Group grew out of Christmas Islanders pooling their savings to re-open the mine after it was shut down following a century of continuous mining. The stock-listed firm has an interest in continuing to nurture its roots on the island, with the lease due to expire in 2034. It has put its money where its mouth is by investing $500,000 to start up Green Space Tech.

For Ken Hawkins, who runs the hydroponic farm over 1000 square meters, it is a homecoming. "It was Christmas Island that got me into hydroponics back in the day," he told AAP. Six months into the project, he has been growing leafy greens such as lettuce, Asian vegetables including Thai basil, tomatoes, chilies and capsicums, rocket, and fresh herbs, amounting to 100 kilograms of fresh produce a week.

Read more at hawkesburygazette.com.au