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Issue 13, Oct-Nov 1999

 

The Collection and Handling of Pollen

Oliver Carter

syzcoryFamily Myrtaceae

Genus Syzygium

1. Determine if pollen is present on a flower, noting that flowers open in succession over many days. Flowers that opened yesterday or earlier will have extremely little or no pollen.

1.1 Flowers which open prior to or during rain (such as overnight or early morning) and if

the anthers have split and released pollen, this would be washed away or matted or caked. These are also useless.

1.2 Flowers must be dry after any fog or dew.

1.3 Fresh to strong wind will blow away most of the pollen - even light wind is a disadvantage.

1.4 Anthers may split open and release pollen from before the flower bud opens to sometime later, eg Jambos in the cool nights and mornings of spring may open overnight but anthers may not split until the day is warm - perhaps 10am. Pollen would be shed at 10pm on a warm night in November if the flower opened then.

1.5 Nectar is produced some time after the flower has opened. This too can cause matting of anthers, stamen and pollen.

1.6 When many flowers are shedding pollen, (ie anthers are splitting) it is usually OK to cut the anthers for their pollen even if anthers have not opened from flowers of the same age.

flowerCollection

2 Pollen can be collected into an ordinary plastic specimen jar obtained from a chemist.

2.1 Cut 1, 2 or 3 flowers if they are in line and those close together with some stem, if there is one.

The flowers are then pressed between thumb and forefinger to make a fan shape of the anthers. This should be done in such a way as to have the anthers mostly not touching the fingers or the thumb.

2.2 Pollen with anthers and some stamen parts is then cut off, using the smallest scissors that can be had. The specimen jar must be close by, with the lid off. Anthers etc must be allowed to drop directly into the jar. However, in practice, a lot of cut stamens will stick to the scissor blades, especially from Syzygium spp. that have small flowers. Tapping the blades onto the edge of the jar may help, but often the blades have to be wiped on the edge of the jar to get them off the scissors.

2.3 A quantity of stamen and anther material with the pollen equal to about 1/2 thimble-full or more should be ideal

2.4 The number of flowers needed for this quantity is enormous and ranges from one or two

or S. subicululare, about 4 or 5 a jambos, 30 of S. johnsonii and who knows how many for S. minutiflorum or S. cumini? Perhaps 20-30 flowers of these later would most likely be enough when it is considered how tedious it is to work with such tiny flowers.

2.5 Nectar from matted stamens or droplets getting into jars must be avoided. This would be about the worst contaminant possible.

3. Storage

3.1 Any droplets of water or nectar must be removed (this can be done by carefully using the corner of a linen cloth or towel to touch the droplet. The moisture will quickly soak up into the fabric.

3.2 Keep the jar out of the sun and in a cool place.

3.3 Put the jar into the fridge (not the freezer) as soon as it is practical.

3.4 The lid of the jar must be taken off and left nearby in the fridge, or left partly on so as to let air circulate to dry the pollen. Fridges are dry places.

3.5 If other persons use the fridge it would be best to leave the lid screwed on during the day and taking it off last thing at night, putting it back on when the fridge is opened the next morning.

3.6 It is very important to get the lid and screw it on as quickly as you can after the fridge door has been opened.

3.7 This is to prevent moisture condensing on the inside of the jar from the warm air. If this is not done , the lid must be left off for another half hour with the fridge door kept shut

3. If possible the jar should be kept upright and not allowed to tip over or to roll about, because the pollen (a very tiny part of the contents) would be spread all over the insides of the jar and its lid.

4. Posting

4.1 Posting must be done by overnight delivery.

4.2 Jar (or jars) need to be packed securely either in a prepaid plastic bag; or a small box.

4.3 Every effort should be made to keep the pollen cool before and even after packaging

4.4 Package should be marked `Special care This Side Up' and `Please Do Not Throw About'

Other Notes

Overnight drying of pollen in a fridge should make it safe enough from moisture so it will keep over the next night while in the post. It would then need to be further dried out over the next few days later. This treatment may keep the pollen viable for about three weeks.

Illust. from `Propagating Australian Plants'

Why we should commercialise and cultivate native plants

Ron Mitchell

Our island continent has a unique predominantly endemic floral biodiversity. The historical development of the native garden concept, particularly in the past 20 years, has promoted the utilisation of a large range of native plants - wildflowers, herbs, groundcovers, climbers, trees, shrubs, fruits, ferns, palms, cycads, orchids, conifers, ornamental grasses and water plants with the horticultural attributes and versatility to qualify their contribution to the urban landscape and the world of ornamental horticulture.

As we enter the next millennium, there is an ever-increasing emphasis on cultivating our own ornamental native plants in our suburban parks, gardens and farms. The use of native tree and shrub species in a myriad of revegetation projects on derelict and degraded post-mining and post-agricultural landscapes is now a well established protocol in South East Queensland. There is now also an increasing commercial interest in the domestication and improvement of selected species of Australian native plants as bushfoods, wildflowers or as timber trees.

There are about 250,000 species of higher plants in the world. Given this biodiversity it is perhaps surprising that with 10,000 years of settled agriculture only about 100 species have been developed as commercially significant food plants, and only about 20 of these constitute the staple foods of the developed and developing world.

These commercial food plants have had a history of selection and improvement in continuous cultivation. However most of the world's traditional wild foods, and particularly those associated culturally with the world's indigenous peoples, have been virtually ignored in terms of a well defined research and development commitment, and have been generally excluded from agricultural commerce.

Australia's agricultural pre-history was characterised by a sparse semi-nomadic indigenous population practising a hunter gatherer lifestyle and fire-stick farming that promoted and facilitated the sustainable utilisation of a diversity of wild food plants. It is estimated that there were upwards of 5,000 different bushfood species across Australia that were utilised and harvested seasonally by the Aboriginal people.

Australia's biological resources are unique, and Australia has an international obligation as a responsible world citizen and signatory to relevant international conventions (such as the 1992 Biodiversity Convention) to enact legislation to protect endangered ecosystems and species and to conserve our unique genetic resources. In fact Australia is one of the 12 mega-diverse regions on the earth which account for 70% of the world's total biodiversity. Australia has about 10% of the world's biodiversity of higher plants (upwards of 20,000 species) in natural ecosystems. Some 85% of these species are endemic (meaning that they occur nowhere else).

Australia's natural biodiversity and high rate of endemism is a result of a geological history characterised by evolution in isolation, as much as the continent's extensive latitudinal spread creating a range of climatic zones. During its 40 million year post-Gondwanan geological history, marine barriers isolated Australia and prevented genetic exchanges with other continents. Furthermore the eastern and western coasts of Australia were isolated from each other because of an internal desert barrier; a factor accounting for Western Australia's treasury of unique native wildflowers.

Most commercial food plants cultivated in the world today are of Mediterranean or tropical origin, and are not inherently adapted to the harsh climates and variable soils of Australia. The cultivation of these exotic crops demands high inputs of irrigation, nutrients and pesticides and in combination with imprudent Eurocentric land management practices and attitudes over the past 200 years has been associated with a mining of water and soil resources, thus resulting in severe land degradation.

Furthermore the world wide trend towards the loss of prime agricultural farming land, particularly to urbanisation and industry, has increasingly driven agricultural industries to marginal less arable land even more unsuited to the commercial cultivation of conventional food plants. In a culturally diverse and populous world, humanity's dependence on such a narrow genetic base for food crops is drawn into even sharper focus.

The application of bio-techno-ogical solutions to existing commercial food plants is associated with well-founded public scepticism and concern. Arguably one of the most environmentally sound options to maintain the world's food supply into the next millennium is a cautious, concerted and comprehensive research and development effort to examine options for the viable domestication and commercialisation of traditional wild foods.

Apart from their enhanced and concentrated nutritional qualities, wild foods under commercial cultivation are most often a genetic reservoir of inherent adaptability to environmental change, hardiness to adverse climate and soil conditions and tolerance to pests and diseases.

It is perhaps too late for the world to source and reinstate through plant breeding strategies the genetic hardiness of the rapidly disappearing wild relatives of domesticated commercial crop plants. Across the world the integrity of the invaluable gene pool of wild relatives of crop plants in the agricultural zones of developed and developing nations of the world has been irrevocably disrupted and degraded. Genetic erosion has been caused from excessive exploitation, habitat destruction, air and water pollution, soil contamination, climatic change and the introduction of exotic and modified plant species.

Perhaps of all the nations on earth, Australia has the best ecosystems to develop an agricultural industry based on traditional wild food plants. This is because of the lack of scientific effort to date in the formal and domestication of wild food plants, the relatively intact nature of our biological resources, and present and future legislative provisions to protect and conserve natural landscapes and the native biodiversity.

There are a number of very sound ecological reasons for the planting or retention of native species in the regional landscape. Native plants provide food and shelter and the preferred habitats for our native fauna. Native plants have evolved over millions of years in response to Australia's unpredictable and unreliable rainfall and generally nutrient-deficient soils. Because of this there are inherent tolerances and adaptations of many native plant species to various types of environmental stress when planted in difficult sites.

The presence of native plants in buffer zones and corridors environmentally enhances the health and vigour of ornamental plants (native and exotic) by creating a diversity of habitats for the natural enemies of serious insect pests. Planting natives into regional landscape also ensures the survival of certain species that are threatened or endangered in the wild.

Native plants provide food and shelter and the preferred habitats for our native fauna. The importance of the hollows in large trees is but one of the essential habitat requirements for many species of native fauna that should not be neglected. The retention of the undisturbed understorey of large eucalypts creates a low maintenance environment that can inhibit the growth and spread of garden weeds In addition most native plants within their natural range of distribution will generally not escape cultivation to become bushland weeds.

A sizeable proportion of Australia's floral biodiversity - perhaps 2000 species - has been utilised for ornamental attributes in amenity horticulture in parks and gardens here and overseas. The spectrum of our native flora includes a diversity of size, shape, colour and appearance. Many native sclerophyllous species are cultivated for export as Australian wildflowers. Native rainforest plants are well known and extremely popular in urban cultivation because of their glossy foliage in spreading canopies, colourful and fleshy fruits, and attractive flowers.

The cultivation of native plants also makes sound economic sense for urban gardeners, landscapers and rural landholders. Native species are generally easier to plant and maintain, and less demanding of water and nutrients than exotic species. Native plant species are generally considered to be pest and disease hardy, and their cultivation and maintained health is less reliant than exotics on pesticides. Many native species have desirable harvestable products (bushfoods, for example), and this was recognised very early in the history of European settlement of Australia.

The present trend towards low maintenance native gardens in landscape design has been enhanced by busy lifestyles, an awareness of the ecological and economic costs of reticulated water, and the increasing influence of the landscape design profession. Native planting material is now readily available, and at reasonable cost from specialist plant nurseries. There is a steadily increasing availability of specific information and industry expertise and advice relevant to native plants.

While there has always been an interest and utilisation of bushfoods by indigenous peoples and European innovators, the transition of the production of bushfoods into mainstream horticulture has been slow, and subject to cultural bias and apathy. There has unfortunately been little effort (apart from macadamias) in creating an appreciation or developing a demand for our unique native edible plants.

The bushfoods industry is still relatively new, and has been heavily reliant to date on wild harvests. The commercial cultivation of bushfoods overcomes the seasonality and high costs of production and variable quality associated with the bush harvested product. Furthermore there are now restrictions on bush harvesting for many species to protect native habitats and the natural biodiversity.

It is likely that ecologically sustainable and environmentally sound wild harvest will continue because of linkages with cultural tourism and ecotourism. Commercial production however will reduce the harvesting pressure in the wild and result in greater quality control.

Commercialisation will also counter the future overseas competitive pressure from the loss and cultivation offshore of our unique genetic resources. Commercial production through plant breeding and variety improvement will ensure higher yields and greater economic viability for farmers through more reliable and regular supply.

The bushfoods industry enjoys a number of inherent competitive advantages, not the least of which is the fact that most of these plant foods are endemic. The bushfoods industry provides opportunities for farmers to specialise and or diversify production systems and develop niche markets and is compatible with other new native plant based rural industries such as farm timber and native wildflowers.

The development of commercial production systems has been facilitated from alliances within the network of enthusiastic permaculturalists and organic farmers. The organic and clean and green approach to bushfoods production is compatible with the objectives of resource efficiency and low maintenance sustainable land use practices, using natural pest and disease control, and having minimal adverse environmental impacts.

For many of the commercial bushfood species, the propagation and cultural requirements have long been recognised because of their utilisation for ornamental attributes in amenity horticulture. Site specific cultivation and production of the local native bushfood is an industry that is suitable for small landholders, with vertically-integrated and value-added cottage industries and niche marketing.

The utilisation of local native tree and shrub bushfood species provides and enhances wildlife habitats, decreases land degradation and provides for the conservation and protection of soil and water resources. The native bushfoods industry in fact provides an economic incentive for the conservation of endangered plant species.

The production of clean bushfood produce, free of chemical residues and genetically modified inputs and subject to organic certification, enhances consumer confidence and reduces the environmental load from conventional farming practices. The bushfoods industry provides Australia with the real opportunity to develop a truly native fine foods cuisine. Give bushfoods a go!

Ron Mitchell is well known author and an exponent of agro-forestry.

The Northern Bushfood Association

Larry geno

In late 1999, the Northern Bushfood Association, Inc, was formed to complete the national coverage of representative regional bushfood groups in Australia. Its stated goals and objectives are:

1. To facilitate the development of local, bioregional bushfood groups within the association.

2. To support and encourage the development of national Australian foods and flavours from northern Australia.

3. To represent all sectors of the bushfood industry in Northern Australia to State and Federal governments.

4. To liase with other regional organisations and governments to foster the interests of the bushfood industry in Northern Australia.

Conceptually, it seeks to be an `umbrella' group for small, local bushfood groups.- the most important level of association for long term networking and success. NBA supports local groups by covering incorporation and insurance and facilitating networking between local groups, assisting the formation of new local groups and representing their interests in larger arenas. Local groups are then free to address the important local needs of meetings, field trips, training and networking to establish the essential bonds between producers, processors and marketers. Forming and growing groups in new crops has always been difficult for a

wide array of reasons; indeed, several have come and gone in recent years. Where groups form that try to do too much, cover too wide an area or depend on too few people with experience, they often do not persist.

NBA hopes to solve this dilemma by sharing and cooperation. Membership includes full members as local groups and associate members as individuals in areas yet to form a local group. The NBA management committee is formed from these members. NBA is flexible with each member, assisting as much or as little as the member needs. A collaborative newsletter has been proposed, including sections from each local group along with sections from larger state, national and international issues. It intends to cooperate with other regional groups to present a unified national front to lobby for funding, legislation and other support. It intends to do only what local groups can't do and only what they want done. The geographic cover of NBA is yet to be fully defined by its membership but is generally seen as the wet and dry tropical and sub tropical environments of Australia with common bushfood species and products.

Several embryonic groups are considering forming and interested individuals exist in many areas. NBA wants to hear from those bushfood enthusiasts and to help them succeed.

Book Review

Mother and Child - the women of Warnum

as told to Margaret Stewart

Magabala Books

RRP $19.95

Sit down you mob - and listen

I must admit to opening this book with some trepidation - what's this got to do with bushfoods? I thought. As it turns out, it was not just one of the best reads I have had in a long time, it also gave me an opportunity to appreciate (once again) the innate wisdom of the original inhabitants of this land - and this has much to do with bushfoods and the way in which we think about our land and what we produce from it.

If there is a single theme to this book of collected tellings, it is `learn from the earth and be strong'. The older women of Warmun are heart-broken by the decline of their children and grandchildren, the loss of not just their health but their own inner purpose. This book asks them, in a way, to sit down you mob and listen! Listen now before all the knowledge and old ways are gone, listen before the children have become a statistic, listen before the proud and healthy heritage which was is swallowed by white man's ways.

The book is one for women and speaks mainly of gathering foodstuffs and caring for pregnant women and midwiving them. As you read it, however, you will begin to understand the very basics of the `old way'- these people lived off the land and understood it as well as we do our fridge.

Margaret Stewart (a white lady) has done us all pround by living with and listening to the women of Warmun - we can all learn much from reading her retelling of their stories.

Very highly recommended.

Ngalangangpum Jarrakpu Purrurn,`Mother and Child' is available directly from Magabala Books:

PO Box 668 Broome, WA 6725.

Ph: 08 9192 1991

Fax: 08 9193 5254

email: magabala@tpgi.com.au

CD ROM Review:

Wild Plants of Victoria

Here is an easy-to-use, well researched and delightfully full colour resource for people who are serious (or simply curious) about our native plants.

Install the CD and you have a choice of searching by area or by species. The interface is easy to use and you can search and find an enormous amount of information with relative ease. You can print out the results of our search and apply filters to pinpoint your search to such things as Koorie use, cultivation and much more.

Not totally bushfood orientated but still a great resource for anyone with an interest in our native plants - most especially those of Victoria.

I look forward to the Queensland CD. And the NT...

the Ed.

The Wild Harvest of Wild Orange

(Capparis mitchellii)

Col Walpole

Recently, we went out to Irongate Environment Park, a marvellous piece of remnant Belah scrub near Pittsworth on the Darling Downs. It's a pity there aren't more places like it.

On the roadside verges near the park there are many wild orange trees. From a few of these, we harvested around a fruitbox full of the large fruit. The tree can be identified by its dark green leaves and striking flowers. the flowers are yellow to cream with large anthers that stand perpendicular to the petals.

capparisCapparis mitchellii

The fruit, however is an acquire taste. In fact, I found it rather horrible, reminiscent of juicy friuot chewing gum mixed with kerosene - on the trip home the car was filled with a smell very like the taste.

As bushfoods go, the fruit is very large, some of those I collected were the size of a large orange.

Capparis mitchellii is a member of the caper family and there are many other Capparis to be found - some in the rainforest - C. sarmentosa (flesh edible but not enjoyable) and some much further west - C. spinosa (flesh edible and sweet, seeds very hot).

To germinate the seed, you need to have fresh fruit, otherwise the seed goes hard and dormancy sets in. Even if you get the seed to germinate, it is touch and go. Many of my plants died when they were about 6" tall. David Allworth the botanist says this may be due to a lack of mychorizal fungi and I intend to obtain soil from around established trees to add to my potting mix.

My opinion on this plant is cautious. I think the fruit is definitely an acquired taste. It is plentiful on the Darling Downs from Feb-April and may be a good opportunity for wild harvest. That's if it's not attacked by the Capparis butterfly larvae.

capparisDistribution of Capparis mitchellii, from Peter Bindon's `Useful Bush Plants'

 

A Sampling of Col Walpole's Plant List - Tubes $1.50 plus postage

Austromyrtus dulcis - Midyim berry

Kunzea pomifera - Muntaries

Podocarpus elatus - Illawarra plum

Rubus parvifolius - Native raspberry

Syzygium paniculatum - Magenta lilly pilly

40 Alford St, Toowoomba, Qld 4350. Ph: 07 4639 2283

From the Bushfood Starter Kit - Bunya

Araucaria bidwillii

bunyaGeneral notes:

Usually a scattered emergent in rainforests. Should not be planted where falling cones might cause damage or injury. Large starchy textured nuts within a tough, woody casing from the cone of the huge Bunya pine tree that is native to New South Wales and Queensland. These nuts are similar in size and flavour to chestnuts and make a delicious bunya nut puree. Each nut is encased in a thin woody shell which can be sliced with a knife after boiling the nuts and while they are still hot. The shelled nuts can then be blended to make a pastry, used as a potato substitute in curries and stews, minced for use in chocolates, nougat, ice-cream or other desserts and even preserved in sweetened rum.

Edible portion: Nut (seed)

Harvest period: Dec-Feb - has shown a 3year cycle of `bumper' crops

Yrs to maturity: 5-8

Form: Large tree - to 30m

bunyaNatural Distribution/Growing conditions:

Rainforests and open forest in coastal SE Qld inland as far as the Bunya Mountains. Also in a small `pocket' in Northern Qld. Trees have been observed bearing well in dry areas of SA.

Climatic/microclimatic conditions:

Sub tropical to temperate. Favours sunny positions

Management reference:

Little research available. Requires good deep soil for best development.

Traditional Aboriginal Use:

An important food, especially during the triennial Bunya feasts

Density: A large tree probably not suited to plantation

Yield at maturity: A good, mature tree, in the triennial harvest, can drop as many as 70-80 cones. Net kernel from each cone is around 1kg.

Harvesting: Cones drop to the ground - removing nuts from the cone and the leathery outside coating, as well as the very tough shell, is still a time consuming process.

Supplied as: Whole raw seed or roasted & ground or frozen. New - raw kernal ground and dried

Typical value adding: De-shelled and vacuum packed, dried, pickled, flour, glaced

Current purchasing price: $3-$8/kg - price unknown for value added products (dried, vacuum packed, etc.)

Perceived demand: Usually good - but `heavy' seasons glut the market.

Recipes

The following have been taken from Juleigh Robins' recipe book `Wild Lime', Allen & Unwin. RRP $24.95. Available from the magazine;

Stir-fried Prawns with Native Tamarind

To serve 6

1.2 kg fresh green prawns, for 30 tails

31/2 teaspoons (20 ml) canola oil

1/2 cup (75 g) native tamarind, chopped

6 spring onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic chopped

2 small or 1 large red capsicum, chopped

2 teaspoons (10 g) fresh ginger, peeled and grated

a pinch of salt

a pinch of native pepper

generous 1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine

200 g Warrigal greens

Peel and clean the prawns and cut along the back to open and butterfly the meat.

Heat the oil in a wok on a high heat until very hot and add the chopped ingredients. Toss and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the prawns, salt and pepper, and wine, and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, tossing frequently.

Wash and lightly steam the young warrigal greens and make a bed in the centre of a large dinner plate.

To serve, arrange the prawns and vegetables on the warrigal greens and drizzle over the remaining pan juices.

Riberry Marmalade

Steven Pashley, the talented Executive Chef from Brisbane's Gazebo Hotel, introduced us to this riberry marmalade. It is an easy recipe to follow, and gives a great result; the limes in this marmalade really give it a zing. It makes a perfect breakfast condiment, especially on fresh homemade Wattleseed Bread. It is also an ideal glaze for pork or chicken dishes.

To make 6x250ml jars

4 limes, seeded and finely sliced

2 lemons seeded and finely sliced

5 cups (1 .25 litres) water

8 cups (800 g) fresh or frozen riberries

1.5 kg sugar

Preheat the oven to l30oC (300oF).

Simmer the sliced limes and lemons in the water for 30 minutes. Add the riberries.

Heat the sugar on a tray in the preheated oven for 10 minutes and then add to the fruit mixture. Simmer rapidly for an hour

Test the marmalade by spooning a small amount of jam onto a chilled saucer, and placing it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. The marmalade is ready when it holds its shape on the saucer and doesn't run.

Pour the marmalade into sterilised jars while it is still hot and seal. It will keep for 6 months, Refrigerate once opened.

Wattleseed Pasta

To serve 6

1 tablespoon and ground wattleseed

2 tablespoons (50 ml) water

31/2 cups (500 g) plain flour

a pinch of salt

5 x 55 g eggs

4 litres water

1 teaspoon (5 ml) olive oil

(20 g) roasted

Soften the wattleseed by combining with the water and heating to a simmer. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. The wattleseed will absorb the water and produce a rich, dark-coloured paste.

Once the wattleseed is ready, combine with the plain flour and salt in a food processor. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the oil, and process quickly until the mixture forms a dough that just holds together

Divide the dough into three and wrap in a clean cloth or plastic wrap, and rest for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator before rolling out.

Bring the water to the boil.

Take the dough from the refrigerator, lightly flour and roll it through a pasta machine to the desired thickness. Cut into your favourite pasta shape - fettuccine, tagliatelle and so on. If you don't have a pasta machine, use a rolling pin and roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 2 mm thickness. Using a sharp long-bladed knife, cut the pasta into the size and shape that you like.

Pour a small amount of oil into the boiling water anti gently place the pasta ribbons into the pot. Fresh pasta cooks very quickly, so watch it. As a rule of thumb, the pasta is usually cooked by the time most of the pasta rises to the surface.

Take the pot from the heat immediately and drain the pasta. Refresh the pasta in a large quantity of fresh hot water and toss with some cooking oil to coat and keep it from sticking together

Try this pasta with a Bush Tomato and Chilli Salsa and fresh herbs such as wild thyme, holy basil or native basil, or fresh garden herbs. Or, you could make wattleseed fettuccine and serve it with a sauce made with button mushrooms, field mushrooms and shiitakes.

Snippets from the bushfood discussion group on the net...

Hi all.

I am very keen to get some bunya nuts. The best way to do them is to bring them to the boil & simmer gently 5-10mins, then on a wooden chopping board use an (authentic) Stanley knife to slice one side of the nut. Then squeeze the top & bottom & the shell opens & allows you to pop out the nut. Then mince in food processor & freeze (no additives).

Only pull 2 or 3 out of the water at once, as the shell is only pliable when hot & wet, & will become hard, slippery & brittle after only a couple of minutes.

Bunya absorbs fats, oils, creams etc & thickens nicely, making starchy soups, gumbos, dough, pastry, stuffings, terrines, roulades, puddings etc. It falls apart in water and is better with oils.

Goose, Duck, Yolla, Lamb are all good as they are fatty.

Also vegies in maca oil are good with bunya. Macadamia oil sets off it's flavour & gives a shiny lush texture.

If anyone has any other native nuts in 2 or 3 kg quantities I am keen to have a play & develop some new menu items.

Chutney of fresh riberries: I gathered HEAPS last Oct/Nov in

Sydney & did all of my preserves of Riberry, onion, cider vinegar, brown sugar, chilli, water, kaffir lime leaves (fresh) simmered 2 hours or so.

Chutney can also be reduced into a nice natural "Jus"..a sauce made from beef bones,carrot onion celery bayleaves, red wine tomato paste thyme, peppercorns etc simmered for 8 hours then strained & reduced by 50 - 60 % (sort of like gravy without

flour!). This gives a brown meat sauce with a piquant tang.

Anyway, if anybody can help me with bunya's, Australia Post or Ansett both do 3kg airfreight bags. Give me an email & we can do something.

Brian, your Muntharies ended up in a nice Sweet Munthari sauce, which is like a sweet chilli sauce...very heavy sugar & palm sugar base in water, cooked until thick with onion, a bit of dice apple & coriander seed. I serve it currently with homemae Kashmir Chicken spring rolls with the

Munthari sauce in one dish, and a small dish of sour cream topped with finely sliced red onion & fresh chopped coriander. The compliments are deafening. Thanks mate.

Auschef, (Shane Brierly) Banksias Restaurant, Botany Bay Sydney

On research -

Our current RIRDC research programme - the focus is on commercial bushfoods which, through practical experience, are already widely accepted as safe to use, although in many cases little supporting scientific information has been available.

The first analyses are under way at the University of Newcastle under the direction of Professor Wills, and will conclude next year. No results are available so far, but they will be published as soon as possible. We are still interested in discussing matters that might affect the safe uses of

particular bushfoods (including any queries from past experience) with people involved with production, sales or research in

volving Australian native bushfoods.

Merv and Elwyn Hegarty.

Dear Bushfooders

I have a friend who is doing some tissue culture work with `ordinary' capers (Capparis spinosa). He would now like to have a try with native capers (e.g. Capparis arborea, C. mitchellii, C. canescens, C. lasiantha, C. sarmentosa, C. loranthifolia). Does anyone know where he might be able to get hold of seed of any of the native species? Thanks very much

Janet Gorst

Integration of mixed plantings taking advantage of the diversity and a lot of them [plantings] - if coordinated = a commercial future. Maximum carrying density is dependant on ground prep and layout, not only of the planting, but also of the irrigation - if planned = a commercial future.

Planting program must be cast for at least seven to twenty years, with annual performace review, from which program is refined - long term commitment = a commercial future.

Accumulation of dispersed knowledge is limited by communication and degree of mutual self benefit - rapid compilation and dissemination = a commercial future sooner.

On the subject of public/member resources what extra info would we need to kick off a database of our own? (See article page 20 - the Ed.)

Species - here's my list of likelies which I am favouring in my planting:

Diploglottis (campbellii & cunningahmia). Acronychia (acidula, oblongifolia and wilcoxiana) as I'm not sure which is best - though I'm leaning towards oblongifiolia. Davidsonia (jerseyana and pruriens). Syzygium (lueh-manni, of course, though I'm putting in a stack of others)

Acacia (sophorae, sauveolins and complanata at this stage).

Local conditions: I'm in high rainfall, cool rainforest with good basalt soil.any more thoughts?

Bede Ireland

Hello,

Presently I am working with plant tissue culture group of CQU as a researcher. Very soon I will be starting my Ph.D. as well. I am looking for such a Bush food crop that is economically quite significant but very

difficult to multiply by seed or any other conventional method. It would be very nice if we can multiply such type of plant by tissue culture. Your ideas are welcome.

Kind regards and best wishes,

Poonam BHATIA

Primary Industries Research Centre

Central Queensland University

Rockhampton, Qld 4702

Telephone: 07-4930-9596

Fax: 07-4930-9255

E-mail: P.Bhatia@cqu.edu.au

Hi all - Have some products coming on line shortly, hope that someone can give me some idea as to current market prices (wholesale) and possible purchasers for the following lines ;

Burdekin Plum - (Pleiogynium timorense). Lemon Aspen - (Acronychia acidula). Lady Apple - (Syzygium suborbiculare). Megenta Cherry - (Syzygium paniculatum). Herbert River Cherry - (Antidesma bunius).

We will have commercial quantities available and can also provide plants (or cuttings) to anyone interested. Graeme Ison

Mareeba FNQ

Hi Brett,

Some advice on Davidsonia pruriens var. jerseyana; they can be pretty hard to establish from scratch in full sun and exposed areas. They do best if you can get something going beforehand which gives about 10 - 15% shade. Other rainforest plants can be a bit slow for this and a lot of people use Pigeon Pea as a nurse crop. It's fast-growing, a legume and offers a good level of shade - I find that it attracts and builds up populations of Monolepta beetles, which then go on to eat the new flush of the Davos. Pigeon Pea also tends to split and fall over in strong winds. I prefer to use Crotaleria, which has a better trunk structure and is easier to manage, especially in a commercial orchard - it doesn't seen to attract the Monoleptas, but they would still probably eat it (what have others found on this issue?). The foliage can be regularly cut and used as mulch around the plums. The other really important thing about establishing Davos is to grow them on to a good size in their pots before you plant them out. If you can get them to about 500 - 600mm with a good, solid trunk they have a few more reserves to cope with the shock of planting out. Good soil OM and nutrition is, of course, pretty important too.

Best wishes, Anthony Hotson.

Tuckombil Native Foods

PO Box 281, ALSTONVILLE NSW, 2477

ahotson@nor.com.au

Fax/Tel +61 2 6628 5558

Canberra Organic Growers Society Inc.

COGS is a non-profit organisation providing a forum for organic growers in the Canberra region. COGS encourages the community to adopt organic growing methods. Members have access to community gardens, meetings; and receive the COGS Quarterly publication.

For further information, contact:

Canberra Organic Growers Society, PO Box 347,

DICKSON, ACT, 2602

Places on the Net...

Acacia in Australia: Ethnobotany and Potential Food Crop -

www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1996/v3-228.html

Australian Dry-zone Acacias for Human Food (CSIRO publication) -

www.ffp.csiro.au/tigr/atscmain/whatwedo/publications/acfoodbk.htm

Australan Native Fine Foods - www.bushtucker.com.au/

Australian Native Gourmet foods from the Bush - www.shopaustralia.com.au/shoptuck.html

Australian New Crops Home Page - www.uq.edu.au/~gagkrego

Blue Gum Fine Foods - www.users.bigpond.com/matterhorn.htm

Bunya nuts - www.anu.edu.au/Forestry/wood/nwfp/bunyanut/bunyanut.html

Bush chocolates - www.sofcom.com.au/mall/bushchoc/

Bush Tucker Glossary - www.foodwine.com/food/egg/egg0597/glossary.htm

Bushfood plants for Northern NSW - nornet.nor.com.au/environment/greenwork/bfood.htm

Bushfoods of W. Qld - www.dpi.qld.gov.au/dpinotes/vegetation/vegetation.html#bush

Bushlink Inland Australia Online - www.bushlink.com

Ceres Nursery - www.cres.anu.edu.au/

Danekas Oz Food Discussion group www.netfx.com.au/danekas

DPI QLD - www.dpi.qld.gov.au

F@rming Online - www.rpl.com.au/farming

Farmwide - www.farmwide.com.au

Food Values and Australian Bush Foods - www.dhn.csiro.au/foodcomp.html

Gil Freeman of The Southern Bushfoods Association - gilf@compost.apana.org.au

Grafting natives - www.anbg.gov.au/hort.research/graft.table.html

Kondinin Group - www.kondinin.com.au

Lemon myrtle the essential oil - www.ffp.csiro.au/publicat/articles/lemon.htm

Longreach Bush Tucker - www.users.bigpond.com/blackmare/

Mother Nature's Bushtucker - www.bigvolcano.com.au/custom/bushfood/bushfood.htm

Nanydjaka plant use - www.octa4.net.au/dhimurru/plants.html

National Farmers Federation - www.nff.org.au

Nicky's Oz Food Page - www.zeta.org.au/~nickyg/Food.htm

NSW Ag - www.agric.nsw.gov.au

Prim Ind & Resources SA - www.pir.sa.gov.au

Production of Bushfoods - www.greenwork.org.au/bushfood.htm

Quandong - www.biodiversity.environment.gov.au/plants/manageme/maldong.htm

Red Ochre Grill -www.redochre.com.au

RIRDC New Plant Products - www.rirdc.gov.au/programs/npp.html#components

SGAP Quandong, wild lime etc - www.silo.riv.com.au/SGAP/

SGAP - www.farrer.riv.csu.edu.au/ASGAP/

Taste of the Bush (Melb. Uni) - www.arts.unimelb.edu.au/amu/ucr/student/1997/silva/

Tasting Australia - www.foodwine.com/food/egg/egg0597/bushtuck.html

The Map Shop - interesting books as well - www.tne.net.au/mercator/mscooking1.html

Witjuti - Original Australian Bush Tucker - www.sofcom.com.au/mall/witjuti/

Groups

Arid Land Growers Ass Inc

Graham Herde

Nectar Brooks Station via

Port Augusta

SA 5700

Ph: 08 8634 7 077

Queensland Bushfood

Association

Interim Committee: Chair - John King.

Contact:Sammy Ringer

Ph: 07 5494 3812

email: bushfood@hotkey.net.au

South East Sustainable Bushfood Industry Group

Secretary: Terence Carpenter

443 Kameruka Lane

Candelo NSW 2550

Ph: 02 64 932 227

Fax: 0264 932 225

Australian Native Bee Research Centre

Promotes the preservation and enjoyment of Australian native bees. Publishes 'Aussie Bee'.

PO Box 74

North Richmond, NSW 2754

Fax: 02 4576 1196

email: anbrc@zeta.org.au

Rainforest Seed

Collective

Co-ordinator:

Yahana Treweeke

Private Mail Bag, Bellingen

NSW 2454

Ph: 066 552 233

$20 for 4 issues ($10 low income).

Southern Bushfood

Association

President: David Thompson,

RMB 7390A Wartook VIC 3401

Ph/fax: 03 5383 6247

email: dinkumfare@hotmail.com

General membership: $35 pa

Commercial membership: $50 pa

6 newsletters per year

Australian Quandong

Industry Association Inc

President:

Robin Schaefer

PO Box 236

Upper Sturt, SA 5156

Ph: 08 8584 7781.

Fax: 08 8584 6350

Seed Savers Network

Contact:

Dierdre

PO Box 975, Byron Bay

NSW 2481

Ph/fax: 066 856 624

Newsletter, seed exchange

Southern Vales

Bushfood

Michael Brandwood:

PO Box 344

Clarendon

SA 5157

Ph: 08 8383 6481

Fraser Coast Essential Oils Association

PO Box 26

Maryborough QLD 4650

Assists in the growing and distillation of Australian natives.

Ph: 07 4121 4588

Fax: 07 4121 4566

Henry Doubleday

Research Ass.

816 Comleroy Rd Kurrajong NSW 2758

Est. 1970 to promote organic methods and principles in gardening and farming.

Great newsletter.

Northern Bushfood Ass., Inc

An umbrella group for bushfood enthusiasts in Northern Australia.

Secretary: Larry Geno

434 Ilkley Rd

Ilkley Qld 4554

Ph/Fax: 07 5478 8815

Australian Plants Society Web Page:

http://farrer.riv.csu.edu.au/ASGAP/

Australian Plants Society

Queensland:

PO Box 586

Fortitude Valley

Qld 4006

Ordinary m'ship: $30 pa

Student: $22 pa

Australian Plants Society

NSW

PO Box 744

Blacktown NSW2148

Publishes 'Australian Plants' and 'Native Plants for NSW'

Ph: 02 9621 3437

Fax: 02 9676 7603

Australian Plants Society

Food Study Group

Lenore Lindsay:

323 Philp Ave

Frenchville

QLD 4701

Newsletter

Bio-Dynamic Agriculture Association

PO POWELLTOWN VIC 3797

Ph: 03 5966 7 333

Fax: 03 5966 7433

Bio-Dynamic Farming & Gardening Assoc. in Aust

PO Box 54 BELLINGEN NSW 2454 Ph: (066) 55-0404

Fax: (066) 55-0399

Biological Farmers of

Australia

PO Box 3404

Toowoomba Village Fair

Qld 4350

Ph: (0746) 393 299

Fax: (0746) 393 755

Canberra Organic Growers Society (COGS)

PO Box 347 Dickson, ACT 2602

email: cogs@netspeed.com.au

Organic Herb Growers of Australia Inc

P.O. Box 6171 SOUTH LISMORE NSW 2480. Ph: (066) 291 057

Tree Crops Centre

PO Box 27, Subiaco, WA 6008

Phone: (08) 9388 1965

Fax: (08) 9388 1852

Bushfood Plants Found here...

VIC: Melbourne

St Kilda Indigenous Nursery

Coastal species - phone for full

species list.

03 9645 2477

525 Williamstown Rd,

Port Melbourne

Edible Gardens

Permaculture nursery with a large range of edible native and rainforest plants

37 Bangalla St, Auchenflower

Ph: 07 3720 8950

Northern NSW

Cornucopia Nursery

Wide range of species

55 Station St, Mullumbimby NSW 2482.

Enquiries:

web site:

http://users.mullum.com.au/~botanica

email: botanica@mullum.com.au

SA - Port Augusta

Nector Brook Discovery Plantation

Santalum spicatum (Australian Sandalwood) Propagated to order for Autumn and Spring planting. In biodegradable tubes with host plants. $3.50 each.

Box 393 Port Augusta 5700

NSW: Kenthurst

Royston Petrie Seeds

Large range of edible Acacia+

Bunya Pine, Brachychiton, Cissus, Syzygium, Lomandra, Macadamia, Podocarpus, Santalum.

Phone for full seed list.

Ph: 02 9654 1186.

Fax: 02 9654 2658

77 Kenhurst Rd, Kenthurst, NSW 2156

QLD: Cairns (Atherton Tableland)

Yuruga Native Plants

Specialist growers of native plants (including bushfoods) for Northern Aust. Phone for price list:

07 4093 3826

Kennedy Hway, Walkamin 4872

QLD: Yeppoon

Yeppoon Rainforest Nursery

Native rainforest species.

Bushfood plants. W'sale & retail

Ph/fax: 0749 393 963

Mobile: 0419 683 157

PO Box 109 Yeppoon 4703

QLD: Yeppoon

Yeppoon Rainforest Nursery

Native rainforest species.

Bushfood plants. W'sale & retail

Ph/fax: 0749 393 963

Mobile: 0419 683 157

PO Box 109 Yeppoon 4703

S.E. Qld: Tallebudgera

Bush Nuts Native Nursery

A propagation/wholesale nursery with over 200 rainforest and rainforest margin species

64 Syndicate Rd

Tallebudgera Valley 4228

Ph/fax: 0755 338 105

NSW: South Coast

South Coast Flora

Species suitable for temperate/cool climates, including: Illawarra plum, Mountain pepper, Cool climate Syzygium spp, native herbs and teas.

146 Dignam's Creek Rd, Via Cobargo NSW 2550

Phone: 026 493 6747

NSW: Bowraville

SPIRIT OF THE RAINFOREST

Growers of Davidson's Plum - NSW species. Tubestock:

2" - 70c 3" - $1.50

Ph: 02 65647426

e-mail: nahele@midcoast.com.au

'Nahele', McHughs Creek Road,

via Bowraville, NSW, 2449.

Qld Sunshine Coast

Barung Landcare Nursery...

carries a wide selection of rainforest bushfood species.

Contact us for a listing:

Ph: 07 5494 3151

Fax: 07 5494 3141

email: barung@sun.big.net.au


Bushfood horticulture consultant and specialist grower of Tasmanian Native Plants.

Kris Schaffer

Dip. Art., Cert. Hort., MAIH

Ph/Fax:

03 6239 1575

Mobile:

041958 7139

Ph/Fax: 0886 347 077  

First Queensland Bushfood Association Meeting

Rob Reason

On Saturday, 19th February, my wife Denise and I attended the inaugural meeting of the Queensland Bushfoods Association at the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens. We are pleased we made the effort

Being relatively novice 'bush-foodies' . we feared that we might be out of place, that we would have little to contribute, that ".he meeting would be o\ erlx :.ong and formal, that it might be dominated by those with commercial interests, that it might not suit our needs and so on.. .we needn't have worried! We had a thoroughly enjoyable day and we can't wait for the next meeting on May 6th In the morning we were taken on a bush tucker tour of the Gardens by volunteer guides and then we had further opporturutv to mix and mingle at an informal picnic lunch in one of the Libran meeting rooms.

The pikelets spread with Coronata fig and Lilly pilly jam supplemented well the packed lunches and junk food. Printed material was available for purchase and distribution. Chairman John King opened the formal proceedings with a brief welcome and an outline of the meeting, then introduced himself and invited other members to do likewise - a great idea' It was a \\ onderful. bonding experience. It w as exciting to discover that, :h:u_!'. v\e came from varying backgrounds with different expertise, we all had a common, strong desire to share information on bushfoods and make the association a goer.

We were also unanimous in our thoughts about the following.

* that we should allow the Association to evolve slowly and only bite off bit-sized chunks at present

" that we should be content at the moment tV.icwmg a broad aim before defining specific objectives (to share and disseminate information).

* that our meetings should be as informal and brief as possible and include educational and social components.

* that we should meet four times a year at the Gardens.

1 am certain that our Association will go from strength to strength if we keep the above in mind 1 look forward to meeting many new faces at our next gathering.

If you can, please bring something to show and tell or taste! If not, just bring your ideas and enthusiasm. You will be most welcome. Roh Reason

Rob Reason is a retired public servant. He and his wife Denise are developing a rainforest garden on their acreage at Everton Hills where they are experimenting with bushfood trees.

A Forgotten Naturalist of the 19th and 20th Centuries

Florenz Bleeser By Christine Jones

bleeserThis is a short article on Flo Bleeser who was a naturalist of Darwin, and who is largely forgotten despite his knowledge of indigenous people, their culture and the significant contribution he made to the botanical knowledge of Australian flora and fauna. Florenz Bleeser, better known as `Flo' or "Boss Bleeser" or the "Butterfly Man" was once a postmaster of Darwin, and in charge of the transcontinental telegraph line. He travelled extensively the Northern Territory from the west coast to Arnhem Land, to the Aru islands, to the southern limits of the Northern Territory postal district and as far as Attack Creek. During his time in the Top End he collected botanical, marine and insect specimens. Flo developed a love of living things from his father, who had accompanied Richard Schomburgk on his explorations to British Guiana during 1840-1844. His father had been responsible for pressing and storing Schomburgk's specimens, skills which he passed onto his son, who shared the same passion and life long commitment as a naturalist.

Bleeser befriended all he met, and gained considerable knowledge of the habits and culture of the indigenous peoples. He collected artefacts and learned the language of the Larakia people, which he spoke fluently. Nemarluk an elder of the Larakia entrusted him with a message stick for safe passage throughout the land, and Bleeser never travelled without it. Bleeser could speak English, German, and French when he came to Port Darwin, and he learnt Japanese, Chinese and Malay from the pearl fishermen during his long stay. As a linguist he spoke seven languages fluently.

He worked at Port Darwin in various capacities in the postal and telegraph field from 1896 until the bombing of Darwin when he and his wife Annie (nee Bevilaqua) were evacuated. During this time he had collected many records and specimens. His botanical collections were housed in zinc lined boxes in a garden cottage, and he also grew orchids in a bush house, and had a garden filled with unusual fruit trees. His plant collections were sent to Kew Herbarium, England, the National Herbarium Melbourne, and his main collections were sent to the Berlin Herbarium to Dr.L. Diels who became a leading authority on Australian eucalypts. Diels personally encouraged his interest, and the collection in the Berlin Museum grew significantly. Unfortunately and heartbreaking for Bleeser, the Museum was destroyed during World War II.

In later times Bleeser sent specimens to William F.Blakely at the National Herbarium, Sydney. One eucalypt specimen Bleeser collected in Darwin was later dedicated Eucalyptus bleeseri in honour of the collector's keen interest of nearly forty years in the flora and fauna of the Northern Territory. Bleeser provided the National Herbarium Melbourne in 1928 with 102 Northern Australian plant specimens . These included those later named as Alectryon bleeseri, Schwarz and grasses, Eriachne bleeseri, Pilger, and Eragrostis bleeseri, Pilger, a palm Ptychosperma bleeseri, Barrett `after Florenz A.K.Bleeser, 19th and 20th Century botanical collector in the Darwin area'; and a rare green ribbon orchid, Chilochista bleeseri, described by Dr.Diels in 1932. Bleeser provided many with knowledge and assistance, including Dr.H.L.Clark of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard who came to Darwin to study the echinoderms in Northern Australia in 1929 and 1932, and Charles Barrett.

The bombing of Darwin and subsequent evacuation saw much of Bleeser's personal herbaria collection, and bush house destroyed, and his Aboriginal artefacts and message stick stolen. This loss of his lifetime's work eventually destroyed the man, who was respected by many. Few specimens now remain of the dedicated naturalists' work, but his memory lives on in herbaria taxonomy, his contribution to the knowledge of Australian flora and fauna, and in the few family connections which remain.

C.P. Mountford wrote of him in May 1956, that Bleeser `.... added more than any other man, to the store of our knowledge of the natural history around Darwin.' Bleeser started and ended life in South Australia. I would add that `his life was one that respected the natural world, and one given to science and the advancement of natural history in Australia.'

DISCLAIMER: The information I have been given when conducting my family history included a number of pages of unsourced information. I have used this information to base this article, and I acknowledge the following known references, and apologise to any that may have been used but not found.to date. C.Jones

REFERENCES

Clark,H.I. (1929 and 1932) Echinoderms from Australia

Hall,N.(1978) Botanists of the Eucalypts

Jones,C.(1999) Susan's Story

McKee,H.S.(1963) "The Bleeser Botanical Collection from Northern Australia"

Contributions from the New South Wales National Herbarium 3,1963.

Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College Vol.LV 1938

Willis,J.H. `Bleeser Specimens in the National Herbarium of Victoria'

Advertiser, Adelaide 2 November 1942, 18 May 1956

Northern Territory Times 5 August 1930

Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, SA.

 

Visions of sustainability within the bush food industry on the north coast of NSW

Brian Sparks

This is a heavily abridged version of Brians's Integrated Project prepared as partial fulfilment of his Bachelor of Applied Science (Environemtnal Resources

Management) at the Southern Cross University

The bush food industry has been proposed by some as a sustainable industry for the North Coast area of NSW for a number of reasons most of which relate to perceived environmental benefits from growing and producing native food crops. These benefits include the preservation of native species and use of agricultural practices which require lower inputs of chemicals and minimal impact on the surrounding environment, compared to more conventional crops. This study aimed to investigate the perceptions of sustainability held by people within the bush food industry, by interviewing six individuals involved in the industry. While the bush food industry was considered to be ecologically sustainable, there remain serious problems with the economic sustainability and social cohesion of the industry. These problems must be addressed before the bush food industry on the North Coast of NSW can be an effective contributor to sustainable development in the region.

Overview

While the term "sustainability' has a wide spectrum of meanings to different individuals, the concept in its broadest sense relates to the ability of a system to persist over time, and includes environmental, social and economic criteria. Present agricultural systems depend, to a large extent, on unsustainable agricultural practices. They involve large-scale high technology approaches using monoculture crops often grown using high inputs of non-renewable fossil fuels and in some cases toxic chemicals. These practices result in such problems as depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of genetic diversity, soil erosion, salination. water pollution and chemical residues in foods. Some of the most serious environmental problems in Australia relate to the agricultural practices carried out since European settlement. They include habitat destruction, loss of species, soil loss and land degradation, and deterioration of inland and coastal waters.

In order to assess whether the bush food industry is in fact sustainable, it is necessary to investigate the people who comprise the industry and their attitudes along with the activities which they carry out.

Background To The Bush Food Industry

In 1983, the first bush food distribution company, Bush Tucker Supply Australia, was established in Sydney, with a base of 30 commercial species. This venture has expanded to encompass a network of 10 professional distributors in Australia and many other agents nationally and overseas. Over 400 restaurants are now supplied with native foods, along with many manufacturers, and food service and retail outlets

Over 1700 collectors and growers gather or produce the foods around the country. There have been many developments in the bush food industry in the last few years. An extensive marketing survey was conducted in 1998 to determine the awareness and perceptions of bush foods within the overall food industry. The results indicate the direction the industry needs to pursue to be a successful player in the Australian and overseas food scene. Some important factors include:

* the establishment of an effective peak industry body,

* the use of an appropriate generic category label, such as 'Native Australian Foods1, and

* a repositioning of native foods with values which will appeal to modern consumers, e.g. prestige, food interest, flavour appeal, and pride in local produce

The bush food industry has an opportunity to market native products which are perceived as clean, green, high quality and distinctive, with a range of unique flavours for the world. With some sensitivity and thought, it is claimed, the future of the industry-could be culturally, environmentally and financially rewarding

Research and development of commercial subtropical bush food plants has been occurring on the North Coast ofNSW since 1977. and a large range of bush foods have been planted since then. By 1996 there was an estimated 100,000 trees and shrubs in the ground (excluding the macadamia). Wild stands of bush foods are used primarily as a source of seed stock and cuttings for cultivation, with some limited wild harvesting occurring Some of the species which are already established in the bush food market-place include Bunya Nut (Auraucaria bidwillii). Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora), Aniseed Myrtle (Backhousia anisata), Davidson's Plum (Davidsonia spp.), Riberry (Syzygium luehmanmi) and Warrigal Greens (Tetragonia tetragonioides).

The first commercial manufacturer of bush foods on the North Coast began operating in Bangalow in 1995, under the name 'Bushfoods of Australia' making products such as jams, jellies, chutneys and sauces.

Currently the Northern Rivers Re-gional Development Board (NRRDB) is in the process of developing a Regional Cuisine, which is designed to promote the Northern Rivers Region and the unique food products which are produced here, including bush foods.

Themes

The following themes were uncovered during the discovery process... some of the themes occurred across the whole spectrum of the interviews, while others occurred only in several of them.I have not attempted to place the themes in.. .any order of priority.

Theme One — 'people generally don 't know much about bush foods' is intimately connected with sustainability at a social and economic level. It involves the sharing of knowledge and information with the public on alternative foods and their uses. Unless this information is successfully disseminated, the interviewees suggest there will not be an adequate market demand to make bush food production economically viable. These results are mirrored in the results of a recent marketing survey into the food industry's awareness and perceptions of bush foods, which indicate that the bush food industry needs to undergo an image change and pursue definite strategies for education, promotion and marketing.

Theme Two follows on closely from theme one: 'Growing and marketing of bush foods may not be economically viable The majority of interviewees concurred with this proposition, and spoke from their own experience in growing or manufacturing bush foods. Inaccurate advice for example, often lead to unrealistic expectations of high profits from growers of some crops who had to sell for a much lower than anticipated price. This meant that many of the individuals interviewed could not rely on their bushfood operation to make a living and had to have other means of income. most of the interviewees had an undeelying concerrn for the natural environment.

Theme Three — 'An interest in the environment and conservation', which demonstrates the concern the individuals have for ecological sustainability. Most of the interviewees described hov. they tried to keep their operation in harmony with the environment Previous studies conducted by. or on behalf of the bush food industry have identified some key issues for research and development, such as genetic improvement of crops, product development, food safety and industry promotion and consumer education.

Theme Four was in agreement with such findings in the literature, and I have entitled it, '/Tie need for funding, research, and marketing '. This theme is connected closely with Theme Two above, and draws attention to tensions between ecological and economic sustainability Some growers indicated that their attempt at bush food production was very much experimental, and their activities with certain species had involved trial and error, simply because no previous research or experiments had been conducted for them to make reference to.

Theme Five: bushfoods are connected in some way with health. Early scientific research has indicated that eating of bush foods may contribute to good health. The Kakadu Plum, for example is now recognised as the world's highest source of vitamin C. Some wattles have higher protein levels than wheat, and several nuts such as the Bunya Nut are low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates. However, the interviewees responses seem to indicate a limited connection between health and sustainability.

Theme Six — 'There is a lack of co-ordination and co-operation within the bush food industry ' - was a proposition derived from the data found in two-thirds of the interviews. As M.B. aptly stated, "there's no control... it's everyone for themselves."

Since the demise of ANBIC (Australian Native Bushfood Industry Committee), there has been no new peak industry body established to oversee and coordinate the development of the bush food industry One of the major recommendations from the marketing report (Cherikoff, 1998), was the necessity of such as body to ensure the industry functions as a dynamic, professional and cohesive unit, and therefore is sustainable. It is also obvious from the interview material that there is a concern felt in the bush food industry regarding impending government legislation, which may affect the industry

Conclusion

This study has confirmed that the bush food industry on the North Coast has the potential to assist sustainable development in the region, ecologically, economically and socially. The six participants involved in this study all have a vision of sustainability for their industry, even though each has a slightly different perspective...

The issues which must be addressed were enunciated in the themes which emerged from analysis of the interviews. They include: a need for public education and marketing to promote bush foods, the imperative for greater co-operation within the industry, and the necessity for government assistance in legislation and funding for research and development. If these factors are dealt with, there is no reason why the local bush food industry may not be sustainable in the future.

Grow Your Own

Executive Summary of the Report:

Grow your own - The gardening options for Aboriginal people on the Central Coast

undertaken by the Nutritional Department, Gosford Hospital. Contact Judith Leahy on 02 4320 3362

In many Aboriginal communities diet related illnesses occur at an earlier age and more frequently than in non-Aboriginal communities. Studies reveal there is little variety in the diet of Aboriginal people and their level of fruit and vegetable consumption is below what is recommended. As nutrition is not a primary concern of most Aboriginal people, diets are unlikely to change unless they are linked with other interests such as taste preferences, affordability or time spent gardening. Approaches to improving nutrition in Aboriginal people must be based on community development strategies that facilitate community ownership and participation, hence commumtv based wardens

are an appropriate strategy to address nutrition related health problems in this population. This report is a feasibility study of gardening options for the Aboriginal community on the Central Coast (of NSW).

The following were investigated; physical considerations in gardening ie drainage, solar access, organic and non-organic methods; urban models of vegetable production, horticultural therapy, market community, backyard and container gardens and their features such as formation, motivation and organisational structure: the essential components of an Abonginal community- garden ie community-consultation in planning and development to facilitate ownership and the desirable components ie education employment opportunities and the growing of bushfoods

Two sites were investigated for the feasibility of establishing a community garden.

Empire Bay was unsuitable, although residents have the option of gardening in their back-yards or containers The second, at Youth Health was suitable for a "shared" community-garden, however, establishment costs are high due to the terracing required. If a more level site was available with similar characteristics, it would be recommended over Youth Health Community-based gardens are an effective strategy to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in an Aboriginal community'. With a well chosen site, effective coordination, motivated participants and the support of funding, a community-based garden would be successful on the Central Coast.

 

 

 

From the editor

Letters

News

Buying and selling

The Bunya Diary

A note on sending Bunya (and other foodstuffs!) to WA

Some notes from the discussion group online

Interesting species: Lady Apple: Syzygium suborbiculare

Growth forms of Acacias Suitable For SE Queensland Gardens

Uses of Acacia lysiphloia

Australian Dry-zone Acacias for Human Food

Wattleseed - Part 1

Information underload

First Queensland Bushfood Association Meeting

A Forgotten Naturalist of the 19th and 20th Centuries : Florenz Bleeser By Christine Jones

Why we should commercialise and cultivate native plants

Grow your own - The gardening options for Aboriginal people on the Central Coast

Visions of sustainability within the bush food industry on the north coast of NSW

The Northern Bushfood Association

Book Review

The Wild Harvest of Wild Orange

From the Bushfood Starter Kit - Bunya

Recipes

Snippets from the bushfood discussion group on the net...

Places on the Net..

Groups

Bushfood Plants Found here...

Flowering patterns of Australian acacia spp. (Excel - .xlsx)