Home ||  Back Issue Contents  || Search ||

Issue 5

From the Editor


My thanks to those who have helped produce this fifth issue:


Colleen Keena


Jan Tilden

John Wrench

and of course

the advertisers

and contributors.

Index: 5
From the Editor...
Peak National Body
Research & Development News
The Desert Raisin (Akadjura) - Solanum centrale
Purely Pepper (Tamannia spp) 
Three Bucket Garden
Black fella, white fella
The Good oil on Kurrajongs
CSIRO report - Acacia
Christmas in the bush
Bushfires and bushtucker
Northern Exposure
The bee that 'fishes' for pollen
Fruiting times (N NSW)
Common names
From the papers
bushfood@hotkey.net.au now sammy - at ausbushfoods.com

All right, it's not quite the biggest event of the magazine's year but actually 'getting on the net' was one of the few New Year's resolutions I've stuck to resolutely. Technology is a wonderful thing. In the right hands, it can send our horizons soaring to the most exciting heights. In more modest (and accident prone) hands, it can leave us looking a little bit like a dill (I do apologise to all those subscribers who got RED reminders for non-renewal - the computer did it!)

The Internet, the World Wide Web (call it what you will), must eventually link us all as the telephone did many years ago. Should you and I live long enough, we'll use it with as much ease as we do the universal car locking system and the microwave.

So much for technology. I would direct your attention to the letter from Andrew Readford on page 5. This gave me a bigger buzz than any successful search I've done on the 'net recently. Admittedly, his answer to harvesting the midyim berry appears a little sus (in fact the 'berry picker' I constructed from Andrew's description hardly works at all) but the visceral pleasure of building something overcame any minor misgivings - and, in fact, inspired me to try for something better.

Occasionally, I relieve computer drudgery with an hour or two of simple manual labour. Attempting to separate a few kilos of Warrigal green seeds from their accompanying bits of mulch, weeds, leaves and other debris, I finally threw a handful into the air in a gesture of desperation. The brisk evening breeze caught the chaff and blew it away, leaving the seeds to fall into the box below. I gazed with wonder at the technology I had invented, realizing with some irony that the indigenous people of this land would have laughed at my frail efforts, having perfected this non-technical technique many thousands of year ago.

Let us, by all means, get on the 'net and strengthen our virtual links - but keep our hands firmly and imaginatively in the soil. Good planting all.

Oops Box

I seem to be giving phone numbers and addresses a hiding: the entry for the Plant Breeders Rights Office in Issue 4 was incorrect: here's the real one:

Ph: 06 272 4228, Fax: 06 272 3650



Recipes I am a student currently studying at Tweed Heads TAFE. I am doing an assignment on bushfoods. I do not know a lot about this subject. Would you be able to send me some of your pamphlets? Also, may I ask your views on bushfoods eg: Where do you think the bushfood market is going? Do you see the possibility of exporting bushfoods? Have you experienced increased sales or increased enquires regarding your product? What sort of feedback have you received from people using your information? Also, I would very much appreciate any recipes you could send me. Thank you very much, in appreciation of your reply.

Yours sincerely

Leonie van Kampen, Site 38 Banora Point Caravan Park Banora Point NSW 2486

Business Practices

A recent experience suggests to me that if the bushfood industry is to have any credibility then it must adopt appropriate business practices. Many growers are small part-time cottage industries who should not be put in the position of having to wait 90 + days to be paid by a manufacturer.

Agreed, some manufacturers state their terms and this is as it should be. There are others who do not, and if they are so under capitalised as to need to use the growers money to finance their business then they shouldn't be in business. Furthermore, the old cliches the cheque is in the mail, it' cheaper to write one cheque, I forgot to sign the cheque, went out with the washing up water.

So, whilst we worry about leaf oil content and cloning, lets make sure our businesses are run on proper grounds.

Yours faithfully,

David Cooke

P.O.Box 358


A bright future

I am really excited at the prospect of being involved in an industry that is really only just starting to come of age; that is, in broader context of becoming viable as a business.

Good luck to you in your venture. I believe it's fantastic, there's a lot of movement at the station with regard to the bushfood movement and I am sure that if we as an industry market our ideas and product correctly, we're all assured of bright futures.

The other side of the coin is that we can look forward to Australian developing sustainable methods of agriculture/horticulture which no longer harm the land but rather enhance it.


Chris Lane Moonee Ponds, VIC

Backhousia info needed

I am a fifth year student with Orange Agricultural College studying Bachelor of Management (Horticulture). For my unit on Technology and Resource Management I have decided to research Backhousia citriodora and whether it is suitable for oil extraction.

I would appreciate any information on this topic.

Thank you in anticipation,

Pauline Voase, 35 Belgrave St, Kempsey, NSW 2440

Ph: 02 6562 2722 W

02 6567 1442 H

Fax 02 6562 2458

HDRA & Seedbanks

Hi, my name is Emily Coleing. I am doing a University project which involves getting a seedbank established on campus. My interest is in bringing practical alternatives into student's education, bringing theory and 'hands on' experience together. I am writing on behalf of the Henry Doubleday Research Association. They have a site on campus at the University of Western Sydney, Richmond. The site, the Earthcare Centre, has a permaculture style garden.

We have space to devote to seedbank resources. Our seedbank will not have a commercial application. It is a venture of goodwill. It will serve educational purposes for University and Primary school students and the public. The Earthcare Garden is an access place for information and exchange.

Would you like to help us? We will trial species which:

  • compliment your varieties

  • are not viable for you to continue with

  • are in demand for 'bulking up'

  • need more research performed.

  • The seedbank will focus on:

  • Dry hardy species and

  • Rare species or those that offer 'something different'

I look forward to your reply - I am also in charge of the bushfood planting at the Katoomba Community Gardens (Blue Mountains). I'm researching appropriate species and who is distributing them or willing to donate them...can you help in any way?

I am currently developing a range of herbal teas with native fruit/herb content. Is there a herb/fruit which is carminative/sedative? Have you got any insights, ideas for a new, small business venture using native foods? Recommended reading? Industry size/interest?

Emily Coleing, 108 Narrow Neck Rd, Katoomba NSW 2780

or through:

Eric Brocken, PO Box 183, Kurrajong NSW 2758

Ph: 045 761 019. email: e.broken@uws,edu.au

Picking midyims

Thought I could add to your Issue 2 climatic regions/species. My knowledge is as a backyard grower and bush regenerator over the last 4 years. I am from Sydney so my information is for the coastal temperate zone. Sydney Botanical Gardens has 5 to 10 year old Achronychia acidula doing well although I've seen no flowers or fruit. Bunya pines do well all around Sydney with good yields. My three year old Austromyrtus dulcis are yielding fine. Backhousia citriodora grows well around the region. Backhousia myrtifolia are local and give quite decent tea. The Botanical Gardens have three varieties of Davidsonia pruriens, 1 Queensland and 2 Nth NSW, all growing and yielding well. I am growing the Qld and Nth NSW Microcitrus australis and australasica and they do fine in my microclimate (3 year old food forest) but of course aren't yielding yet. Near Windsor (Cumberland Plains) propagation of new plants from mature Microcitrus australis and australasica is being done; they are about 6 foot tall. I've seen 8-10 year old Burdekin Plums yielding fine in Hunters Hill (central Sydney) and I have a 3 year specimen doing well.

Mature Illawarra Plums in central Sydney also do well. I've had a Santalum acuminatum for a year and it hasn't died yet! I purchased 4 bush tomatoes at the same time; 2 look sick and 2 are fine. My 3 year old Dorrigo pepper (Tasmannia stipitata) is doing well in my microclimate. Warrigal greens (Tetragonia tetragonoides) are local. I have grown Rubus parvifolius in my garden from wild cuttings but have difficulty in getting them to produce fruit after flowering. Can you or any reader suggest reasons for this? Are we missing pollinators? Will growing them in a sunny position help? I use blood and bone mixed with straight potting mix.

You asked for an invention to help pick midyim berries (Austromyrtis dulcis) - while WWOOFing in Finland I saw a them use a kind of renovated tissue box or shoe box with a large outer opening and a smaller inner opening. They pushed this onto the blueberry bushes and pulled them back, scraping and shaking the fruit in a pull punch kind of method. This idea is more to stimulate discussion than a full answer!

Best wishes

Andrew Readford

1 Readford Pl

Ryde NSW 2112

On a short wik

Legislation is currently before the Federal Parliament to amend the Native Title Act. Known as the "Ten Point Plan", the legislation is the government's response to the High Court of Australia's determination in the Wik case - that Aboriginal Australians may, under defined circumstances, have some land rights on pastoral leases. This bill, which savagely attacks the property rights of indigenous Australians, is clearly racist and should be condemned by the Bushfood Industry.

In my capacity as a Koori educator I am confronted every day by the ignorance and apathy of most people on this crucial social issue.

The Wik case, that was running at the time the Native Title Act was proclaimed, found that that pastoral leases granted by governments, under certain circumstances, did not "extinguish" native title. Mining and pastoral industries have seized on this finding to further their own self-interest, mounting campaigns to remove the property rights of indigenous people and gain "ownership" for themselves, under the banner of "certainty". They have created such a fuss that government has contorted itself into presenting land ownership to people, who until now, only had occupation for specific purposes. To provide this "ownership", the Bill has stripped the property rights of some Australians in a racially discriminating manner, and reneged on the process of "reconciliation" that our society was belatedly undergoing,

The proposition that Wik created allows for Aboriginal Australians to claim rights of access and use of traditional lands, where those rights do not conflict with the rights of the leaseholder. This mild finding is now being used to upgrade leases to virtual "freehold". The ramifications of this legislation for the future are alarming. Injustice creates anger and instability, indigenous Australians are despairing of the process of law that continues to ignore their legitimate rights and discriminates against them.

The bushfood industry is based on the natural and social heritage of indigenous Australians. We have a special economic and moral responsibility to object to the injustice of the "Ten Point Plan''. Indigenous people share their knowledge, protect the resource and participate in the bushfood industry. Crown land is the most important source of bushfood species. Conversion of crown land to "freehold" will restrict the development of our industry, reduce the availability of species for study in their natural communities, promote greater overseas ownership of country currently held by non-Australian leaseholders and cause the loss of indigenous management practices. Boycotts of government instrumentalities and the 2000 Olympic games by indigenous Australians and other countries will limit promotional and commercial opportunities. The integrity of our industry will be crippled by social duplicity and racism.

There is little time to join with others to express concern about the ten Point Plan, or to lobby against law-making that will enshrine discrimination, injustice and social instability. As an industry we have critical interest in supporting indigenous people, and conservation of the natural environment. Both will be degraded by this legislation. Speak out now against this bill, for the sake of commerce, social harmony and, most of ail, for goodwill and justice for our Koori members and their communities.

David Thompson

A New Peak Industry Body for the Bushfood Industry?

In mid December last year, representatives from a wide range of local regional and specialist bushfood organisations met in Melbourne to discuss the national organisation of the industry. The meeting was at the invitation of RIRDC (Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation) and was very kindly financed by them though they did not actively participate in the meeting. Dr David Evans (RIRDC research manager with special responsibility for the bushfood industry) remarked

"The government must have one body in the industry to talk to and one organisation through which it can direct research and development funds."

An organisation intended to be the peak body for the industry was set up m early 1997. Unfortunately, this body, the Australian National Bushfood Industry Company (ANBIC) failed to get the widespread support of the whole industry, especially the growers. At the December meeting, Russell Holden, the current Chair of Directors of ANBIC, detailed some of the problems the Company had experienced since establishment and the efforts of the current Directors to make it viable. Members of all the organisations present at the meeting stated with some frankness and vigour of why they had had reservations about ANBIC and set out their expectations of and requirements for a Peak Body.

It was agreed by all present that a restructured ANBIC could be the model for the P113 but only if all participants in the industry felt that it did represent their interests and that it was democratic and effective. As a first step in ensuring these outcomes, the notes of the meeting were to be as widely distributed as possible. Secondly, a working party was convened jointly by Russell Holden of ANBIC and Ken Dyer, a small grower of Southern Vales Bush Foods in South Australia, to consider the structure of a 'new' PIB in detail. The working party has yet to start its deliberations but Ken and Russell invite submissions either directly to them, through any member of the working party or through any official industry association. Contact details are:

Ken Dyer: P0 Clarendon SA 5157. 

Phone/fax: 08 8383 6263. 

email: kdyer~mail.camtech.net.au 

Russell Holden: P0 Box 641 Penrith NSW 2751. 

Phone: 047 338 033. Fax: 047 338 064. Mobile: 0419 653 650

Possible structure of a Peak Industry Body

Draft, preliminary suggestion from Gil Freeman as amended by Ken Dyer and others.

The principles under which it should work should be as follows:

1. There should be one and only one Peak Industry Body.

2. The national structure needs to be based on members who are representative of the industry.

3. The national structure needs to have representatives from the following: 

(i) all sectors of the industry (wild harvesters, growers, value adders, distributors, marketeers and end users). The balance of sector representatives would need to be carefully set to ensure that no one group dominates, yet all have a significant voice;

(ii) representatives of growers from all geographical areas (or, better still, climatic/ecological regions). These could be based around tropical, subtropical; arid and temperate zones with, say, no more than two associations from each of these, There could, alternatively, be single State/Territory representatives. The latter approach is ecologically meaningless but might be politically astute.

(iii) specialist group such as the Quandong industry, the Macadamia industry and others including perhaps the 'non pure organisations as they arise and are approved.

Representation of Aboriginal interests also needs to be ensured.

4. Its functions should be based on:

(i) industry specific coordination, information sharing, lobbying

(ii) sharing of information among regional and specialist associations

(iii) dialogue on behalf of' all sections of the industry with governments at all levels

iiv) seeking finding for research and development and commissioning of specialist research where possible.

5, Its membership might be divided between (a) Associations (ie not for profit organisations) (b) Commercial organisations with different levels of membership fees (and possibly voting strengths) depending on membership numbers, turnover levels etc (c) Affiliated individuals and specialist groups such as research scientists, government bodies etc. who would pay low fees and not have voting rights.


Bushfood Research Commissioned

Following its newspaper advertisement last year, and after a twostage evaluation process in which industry members were involved, RIRDC has commissioned four bushfood projects as part of its New Plant Products R&D Program for 1997/98. They are:

Title: Marketing the Australian Bushfood Industry

Principal Investigator: Vic Cherikoff

Organisation: Bush Tucker Supply Pty Ltd

Project Duration: 2 years Indicative

RIRDC Budget: $30,000

Phone: 029817 1060

Title: Market research and promotion of bushfood

Principal Investigator: Peter Thompson

Organisations: W Angliss Institute of TAFE

Project Duration: 2 years

Indicative RIRDC Budget: $15,000

Phone: 03 9606 2246

Title: Food safety of Australian plant bushfoods

Principal investigators: Prof Ron Wills, Drs Merv and Elwyn Hegarty

Organisations: Agfood Studies Pty Ltd & Plantchem Pty Ltd

Project Duration: 3 years

Total RIRDC Budget: $33,600

Phone: 02 4348 4148

Title: Bushfood industry database scoping study

Principal Investigators: David Tait and others

Organisations: Aquatech Pty Ltd & Total Earth Care Pty Ltd

Project Duration 1 year

Total RIRDC Budget: $35,000

Phone: 026251 3060

The total allocation to these projects from our 1997/98 budget is $82,000, a slightly greater amount than indicated earlier. While fixed in total, the budgets for the first two projects will be finalised once the respective work plans have been fine tuned to ensure maximum synergy. It is hoped to have all. four projects up and running by the end of February.

The outcomes of these projects will depend greatly on effective interaction between the researchers and the industry. Please give the researchers your strong support.

Planning for the future

RIRDC funded a meeting with representatives of the several bushfood Industry Associations in Melbourne on 10 December with the aim of progressing the development of an R&D plan for the industry. Readers may recall that the drafting of an R&D plan for the industry started at a RIRDC-sponsored workshop held in Canberra in February 1997.

The participants worked their way carefully through the widely circulated third draft of the plan and considered each of the twenty-odd responses to RIRDC's bushfood questionnaire.

Perhaps the most crucial issue arising was the need for the R&D plan to reflect more clearly the value to the industry of Aboriginal knowledge and customs and to encourage the greater involvement of Aboriginal people in the industry.

Proposed research objectives:

(1) Understanding markets,

(3) Food safety and

(4) Profitable and ecologically sustainable production systems

were considered to be important, with

(5) Enhancing the industry's human resource base being crucial to the achievement of all three of the previously mentioned objectives.

It is hoped to circulate a fourth draft of the plan among industry members and other interested parties no later than March. Copies of the plan will be available from RIRDC's Melanie Lane on: 02 6272 4029

Please feel free to have your say before the die is cast.



Get up-to-date info at Bushfoods magazine online