Gardening in Antarctica

Healthy looking basil growing in abundance in the hydroponics facility at Casey
Healthy looking basil growing in abundance in the hydroponics facility at Casey (Photo: I. Harris)
Produce in the Casey station Hydroponics shedCasey station Expeditioners inspect the crops in the hydroponics shed

19 May 2003

The inaugural, inter-station tomato growing competition is now under way in Antarctica! Launched on 1 May, the stations who have chosen to participate have three months to grow either the largest, or the most oddly shaped, tomato. Regular updates will be published on our web pages to monitor the progress. To date, entries have been received from Macquarie Island, Davis and Mawson.

The provision of fresh fruit and vegetables for the dinner table is something many of us take for granted – but not so in Antarctica. An expeditioner's diet these days is a far cry from the dry sledging biscuit and pemmican ingested in the name of food by our early, and not-so-early, Antarctic explorers.

The installation of a small hydroponics facility at each of our Antarctic stations means that a few fresh salad vegetables are produced throughout the year. In fact, hundreds of kilos of fresh produce wends its way from container to kitchen, generating a source of fresh vitamins, but possibly even more importantly, adding the psychological boost of colour and freshness to the table.