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|Issue 8, Jul- Aug 1998|
BY STEVE ROSS
The Arid Zone Bush Tucker Project has been running since March 1998 with a funding cocktail from D.E.E.T.Y.A. (Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs), The Broken Hill City Council, The Central Darling Shire, Pasminco Mining and The Area Consultative Committee.
The aims of the project are to help establish the bush tucker industry within the far west region on a commercial base. There will be plantation and orchard growing of Australian bush food species suited to the region and the carrying out of research and development projects for the long term benefit of the developing industry.
Interested growers are supported in two forms, technical information and secondly with business planning and advice on the establishment of such a venture.
The project is networking through the state and Australia with information on the project and industry with the many people interested in Australian bush foods.
The regional site visit are carried out on a professional scale with site analysis that includes:
* Measuring the area for design drawings
* Soil analysis for technical support on soil improvement (soils highly Alkaline)
* Topography assessment for earth works to incorporate contour furrowing to reduce rainfall runoff
* Deep ripping behind the contour furrowing for water absorption into the ground to conserve water within the soil
* Mulching materials selection such as living (mulching plants) or organic materials
* Irrigation design to enhance deep ripping growth and production
* Plant species selection
* On going technical support when plants are in the ground for pest, disease and nutrient problems.
* Market and business support through the local B.E.C. (Business Enterprise Development Centre) and packaging technologies.
* Contour furrowing prior to deep ripping
* Working with people developing food, resale and product value adding within the region.
* Technical support to existing growers of Quandongs within the region
The project has also been involved with helping establish a bushfood and native nursery at Bourke with the Gundabooka C.D.E.P. Aboriginal corporation. The nursery has high design standards with drainage, irrigation systems and on the job training in horticultural propagation and soil mixing for Australian native plants.
Research and development is also one of the aims the project is committed to, with a small program running a selection of eight species of Acacia. The research looks at selections of fast growing plants, pest and diseases resistance, seed yields and importantly taste and nutritional values. The species selected for the trials are Acacia aneura., iteaphylla, kempeana, ligulata, longifolia, oswaldii, pycnantha and victoriae.
To create awareness of the Australian native food industry and its range of produce, the project staff work in with the Departments of Agriculture, Land and Water Conservation, State Regional Development and Fair trading, National Parks and Wild Life Service, Agribusiness officers and West 2000 and the local Aboriginal Corporation to give them a base for up-to-date technical and industry information. This also includes joint community development days with information and displays highlighting the diversity of industries that could provide economic avenues for the region.
A local Primary School has taken on an educational roll as well, with a term curriculum focus on bush foods. The project is also helping with an environmental grant application to create a bushfoods garden in the school grounds.
Pam Allea the state Environment Minister, recently presented a cheque to the school after the hand back to the .Aboriginal community of Mutawitji National park. The garden has been started and some plantings of local bushfoods are in.
For any information on the project please contact the project coordinator and technical officer, Steve Ross on 08 8087 9222 or 0418 457 732. The postal address is 41-79 Crystal St, Broken Hill 2880 NSW.
Reprinted from 'Aussie Bee', August 1998
Continuing his exciting new series, Dr Tim Heard, a pollination expert with CSIRO Entomology, Qld, explores the potential value of stingless bees as pollinators of macadamia trees.
Commercial honeybees (Apis mellifcra) are essential pollinators of many crops in Australia. However, there are some specific crops which appear to be pollinated better by native bees. Both the quantity and the quality of the nuts produced in a macadamia crop are increased when bees visit the flowers. Even larger crops can be obtained if different varieties of macadamia tree, that are compatible with each other, are planted together so that cross-pollination can occur. Insects aid this process of cross-pollination by moving the pollen from trees of one variety to the trees of the other.
Many insects visit the flowers of macadamia. However, the most common visitors to macadamia flowers in Australia are commercial honeybees and native stingless bees. In the macadamia-growing areas of Australia, both types of bee are usually present for the entire macadamia flowering season from about August to September. Native stingless bees and commercial honeybees behave differently on macadamia flowers. Honey bees collect mainly nectar from the base of the flowers while stingless bees collect mainly pollen. This brings stingless bees into closer contact with the stigma, the small surface on top of the flower on which the pollen grains grow and eventually fertilise the flower.
Pollen grains are deposited when a bee brushes against the stigma. In 1985-87 I did a series of experiments which showed that stingless bees are efficient pollinators of macadamia. Some flowers were enclosed in bags so that they could not be touched by insects at all. These flowers produced no nuts, showing that insects are needed for pollination. Other flowers were enclosed in cages which excluded honeybees but allowed visits by the smaller stingless bees. The flowers in the cages yielded as many nuts as the flowers which were not enclosed at all, showing that stingless bees alone can be efficient pollinators of this crop. When hives of commercial honeybees were introduced into orchards, I found that only 24% of the bees in the colonies foraged on the macadamia. while the remainder preferred flowers of other plants. Stingless bees, however, had a higher preference for macadamia with 100% of the bees from hives in orchards visiting the macadamia flowers. Stingless bees responded well to heavy flowering of macadamia. When flowering was heavy, the stingless bee hives became much busier as the workers took advantage of the temporary abundance of pollen. However, honeybees could fly at lower temperatures so they foraged for an average of 10 hours per day compared with only 7 hours for stingless bees.
Stingless bees were common in orchards which had surrounding natural eucalyptus vegetation. The natural vegetation provides nest sites and other food for the bees. The more natural vegetation around the orchard the greater the bee population. However, even in some areas with only 15% remnant vegetation cover, there were still adequate bee populations present.
Stingless bees were absent from some orchards uliere most natural surrounding vegetation had been cleared, such as in the Lismore district of NSW In these areas it could be particularly beneficial for a stingless beekeeper to bring in some boxed hives of native bees to assist in macadamia pollination.
Extract from "Crop Pollination with Australian Stingless Bees" by Tim Heard and Anne Dollin (Native Bees of Australia series).
Don't miss the new booklet in the Native Bees of Australia series. Crop Pollinatior with Australian Stingless Bees! Comprehensive list of suitable crops. Pros and cons of stingless bees and how to get the best from stingless bee pollination.
Contact the ANBRC at: PO Box 74, North Richmond. NSW 2754. Subscription to the quartlerly magazine is just $26.50.
AUSTRALIAN QUANDONG INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION Inc. PO Box 236 Upper Sturt SA 51 56
AQIA Information sheets & Publications
1.0 Geneva information Hstory
2.0 Selection & Germination of Seeds [pros & cons]
*3.0 Direct Seeding of Plants Germinated seed for Quandong.
4.0 Grafting Techniques (advantages & disadvantages)Selection of Rootstock, Hosts & After Care.
*5.0 Establishing a Quandong Orchard
*5.3 General Introduction.
*5.4 Planning a Quandong Orchard.
*5.5 Soil type and Preparation.
*5.6 Spacing for Quandong Trees.
*5.7 Seedlings versus Grafted trees.
5.8 Selection of Host Plants refer Information Sheet 4.0
*5.9 Recommended Transplanting Methods for Quandongs.
*5.11 Fertiliser Practice.
*5.12 Weed Control.
*5.13 Flower Pollination.
*5.14 Record Keeping.
*5.0 Guandong Production
*6.3 Pest Control
*6.4 Harvesting and Handling Methods
*6.5 Cutting, Drying and Storage.
•6.7 Estimated Yield.
•6.8 Fresh and Dried Fruit Prices.
*6.9 Short term Marketing Goals
*7.0 Provisional Fruit Standards.
8.0 Provisional Seedling and Grafted tree Standards.
*9.0 Provisional Quandong production Standards.
NOTE Only those marked with an * are available at 1-6-98.
The price for each information sheet including postage is: AQIA members $2.00 NON MEMBERS $4.00
*10.0 RECIPES in A5 format 50 QUANDONG recipes. Price: AQUIA MEMBER $4.50 plus postage .75 = $5.25 NON MEMBERS $7.00 plus postage .75 =$7.75
*An Assessment of the Commercial Potential of Quandong (Santolum acuminatum] varieties in Broken Hill. Author Heidi RasaKari B. Hort. [Hens] University of Western Sydney-Hawkesbury Price Including postage $20.00 When ordering please send cheque or money order.
ACN 003 355 753
AUSTRALIAN NATIVE GOURMET FOOD
The development of Native Australian foods
Native Australian ingredients are our food contribution to the future. They include indigenous fruits, herbs, spices, nuts, leafy greens, oils as well as game meats and even seafoods. Most of the plant products are best used as flavourings to conventional ingredients and many are beginning to make inroads around the world. Once only sustenance for Aborigines, native ingredients can be adapted for use in any international cuisine introducing an unmistakably Australian character to culturally specific dishes. What can be considered a truly Australian cuisine is now coming into its own as a sophisticated mix of eclectic styles combined with the unique flavours of native foods from our deserts, bushland and rainforests, from high country to coastline, through the tropics to our cold southern climes. Even the names, for example, lemon myrtle, wattleseed, mountain pepper or the Aboriginal akudjura, bunya bunya, munthari, quandong and warrigals are as Australian as Crocodile Dundee or the verse of Banjo Paterson.
Working with dozens of creative chefs as well as with professional and amatuer horticulturalists around the country, these flavours have been selected as commercial by Vic Cherikoff. now credited with pioneering an Australian Native food industry. In partnership with Bradley Field for the last five years, their company, Bush Tucker Supply Aust. Pty Ltd, has developed the supply of over three dozen species in many different forms for use as native food flavourings Now. native Australian gourmet foods are finding their way onto restaurant tables at all levels of food service both, domestically and internationally, as well as into the products of mainstream and boutique manufacturers destined for supermarket shelves, specialty retail outlets and reflecting its contemporary nature, the growing e-trade.
The pioneering work began with Vic's nutritional research into bushfoods at the Human Nutrition Unit at The University of Sydney while simultaneously beginning the distribution of native foods to restaurants. The business side of the efforts to establish native ingredients necessitated educating the market while building ingredient supply and promoting the concept of a native Australian cuisine. Bradley's business skills more recently introduced systems and procedures which streamlined operations and allowed for continued growth. Together, Vic and Bradley continue to push native Australian foods into new markets with professional product and market development. In educating end-users, BTSAust. has produced two books written by Vic Cherikoff, The Bushfood Handbook and Uniquely Australian, A Bushfood Cookbook as well as educational and training curriculae for TAPE colleges on Australian Native Cuisine and Australian Contemporary Cuisine for apprentice and qualified chefs. A highly informative Internet website, developed in-house (mw. bushtucker.com.au) is now used by manufacturers, chefs, growers, students and many others in the food, tourism and hospitality industries.
The motivation behind Bush Tucker Supply Aust. is a vision that both, Australians and overseas visitors will learn to appreciate the innovative wild flavours which make native gourmet foods the one influence unifying the many food fads of multi-cultural, contemporary Australia. In addition, our native foods will soon be discovered by chefs and manufacturers all over the world as the most recent, versatile, innovative must-have ingredients either for their statement as Australian flavours for stylish dishes or simply in their own right as new, exciting and different tastes
Easy Edibles - Grow Native
I must admit to feeling a pang of envy when people speak of their fresh fruit and vegetables, picked that morning from their own backyard. How do they find the time? All that preparation and mulching and bug catching...not to mention the numerous ailments plants seem prone to (lettuce that goes from seedling to seed overnight and capsicum which fill with water and rot). Our lifestyle simply isn’t geared to the old fashioned care and experience Grandma gave her vegetable garden.
I sympathise with every person who has planted out a vegie patch with good intentions and watched it become overgrown with vigorous weeds while the edibles fade and die.
For most of us, the idea of self-sufficiency from the garden is about as down to earth as airborne porkers - but there is a simple way in which most of us can enjoy fresh foods from the grass patch with a minimum of work. Backyard bushfoods. No witjuti grubs or sugar ants here - just a pleasingly long list of well behaved natives which happen to have edible fruits, nuts, leaves or tubers. Trees, shrubs and ground covers which you may already have in your garden or lining the street. Plants which are superbly adjusted to our climate and soils and need a minimum of molly-coddling.
The question’s often asked - “I’d like to grow a few bushfoods - which species should I choose?” The simple answer is - those species which occur naturally in your area. A visit to your local nursery should give you some clues.
On the other hand, there are a number of species which will grow almost anywhere so let’s start with those.
Almost every garden has room for ground covers and one of my favourite ‘bush nibbles’ is the Midyim berry (Austromyrtus dulcis). This is a nearly prostrate plant which will reach a size of 1-1.5 diameter in time. It grows reasonably quickly (mine were fruiting in the second year in a sub-tropical climate) and has a very pleasing shape (spreading but not straggly). The small leaves are attractive and the berry itself is quite unusual - about chick pea size and grey with purple dots. The taste? Well, it’s sweet, sort of cinnamony and has just a touch of pine about it. This ‘piney’ taste puts some people off but I like it. You can eat midyims straight from the bush, add them to fruit salad, yoghurt, pavlova or almost any sweet. I’m quite partial to sun dried midyims, which retain their taste well and have about the same keeping quality as raisins.
If the midyim plant is happy, it will give you two crops of berries a year - like many of our natives, it seems to have ‘good years, not so good’ and the occasional bumper.
Midyims are found naturally in the sandy soils of Fraser Island and it certainly grows best there (they say the berries are about the size of a cherry on the island) - but there are midyims growing right round the country - out at Longreach, down in Tasmania and up my way in the sub-tropical rain forests.
If you’re in a flat dweller and would like a taste of the bush on the balcony, the midyim’s for you. Give them a large enough pot, plenty of sun and room to droop and you should be picking berries in a year or so.
Next to the midyim, the Lilly Pilly is my favourite pick-from the bush. Yes, they are a little tart but I like that too - sort of reminds me of childhood and crab apples and sour grass. Lilly Pillies vary in size but tend to be small to medium trees.
The lovely, lilting name of Lilly Pilly is a lot easier to get your mouth round than the proper name of Syzygium (try saying that one fast!). There are over 60 different species of Syzygium in Australia and the other popular name given to them is Riberry. The fruit varies immensely from one species to the next. The sweetest is from the Magenta Lilly Pilly (Syzygium paniculatum) but the most popular for commercial use is Syzygium luehmannii (this is the proper Riberry). This is a fairly tart little creature but it bears a large fruit and has even managed to come up with a seedless variety which is now used extensively in production of jams, jellies, cordials, etc. What do you do with a Lilly Pilly? Just about anything you want. Pucker up and eat them straight from the tree. Put them in vinegar for a very elegant dressing. Jam them, jelly them or cordial them (they make a highly refreshing summer drink). Use them in chutneys, meat sauces, fruit salads, salsa...just about any dish which comes alive with a touch of tartness is fair game for the common Lilly Pilly.
Once again, it’s a native that should grow almost everywhere. It’s not a plant found naturally in arid areas and it doesn’t like heavy frost but, given ample water, protection and a little bit of fertilising encouragement, you’ll be picking in 2-3 years. For those who like their backyard in miniature, there’s now a new variety called ‘Mini Pilly’ which stays shrub size.
Backyard bushfoods aren’t likely to take over from the backyard vegie patch - but they can make an easy - and edible addition to almost any garden. There are literally hundreds of species suitable for the suburbs and even the inner city and if, like me, your vegie patch is more patch than vegie, why not try a native?
Many of the world's leading chefs see kangaroo meat as having an important role in defining modern Australian cuisine and have developed an array of sublime kangaroo dishes, made with Southern Game Meat's export quality kangaroo meat.
In fact, kangaroo meat is acknowledged by chefs in five star hotels, bistros and restaurants in Europe, the United States, Japan and Australia as one of the world's best game meats. Chefs often describe kangaroo as an excellent and elegant meat, well suited to the development of a unique array of Australian dishes. Kangaroo's subtle game flavour can be complemented by a wide variety of herbs and berries, as well as confitor and jams, the meat also smokes well. The meat's structure is quite strong so it slices well and presents well when working up very sophisticated presentations. Seared rump cooked on a very hot char grill and served with a sauce made from a reduction of kangaroo tail stock, seasoned with Tasmanian pepper berries is a very popular, easy to make bush tucker dish developed by Sydney chef Jean-Paul Bruneteau fiom Riberries restaurant. This is a simple elegant dish that has a wonderful aroma reminiscent of the Australian bush.
Bushfoods, in a contemporary sense, feature wild or only partially domesticated native game, fruits, berries, leaves and herbs which can be used to extract some wonderful and unusual flavours.
This takes experimenting but the results are well worthwhile.
Chef Phillip Searle says; "Because kangaroo has such a big flavour it really forms a-natural symmetry with the intensity of Asian flavours and is fantastic when seasoned with tamarind, it is a match for chilli, and goes with everything in the sweet, sour, hot and spicy range. I also like to cook it with sub-continental spices."
For further information please contact: Mr M Mulligan, Southern Game Meat P/L, 22 Churchill St, Auburn, NSW 2144. TEL: (02) 9748 2261 Fax: (02) 9647 2167 www.sgm.com.au
Producers of fine indigenous meats - Lena Wallaby, the Veal of Kangaroo & Possum: the King of Game Meats. Distributors of indigenous and game products.
Lenah Game Meats
PO Box 294 Mowbray 7248
TASMANIA Ph: 03 63267696 Fax: 03 63262790
Rob Fletcher School of Land and Food The University of Queensland Gatton College Gatton 4345
Samuel Johnson once wrote "curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind.'' Unfortunately, curiosity works against our best efforts to commercialise new crops, especially the Australian native species. Because of curiosity, the first thing we naturally want to do is plant. It's also one of the easiest things to do. Once done, we have something to show. But why plant something if there is no obvious way to make money from the planting? Perhaps we plant in hope.
Our principal motivation for any commercial rural enterprise is to make money. To plant a new crop species without knowing what the product will be and who will buy it, is not a commercial undertaking but a hobby. It is more a gamble, with the odds of a pay-off probably worse than those associated with buying a lottery ticket.
This does not mean that new crop plantings do not have any value at all. They could be useful for aesthetic, educational or ecological reasons.
However, if our plantings are made without any clear idea of the product and its eventual use by consumers, we should not be considering them as an investment with an expectation of future earnings. Instead, they are a cost against our overall enterprise. The difficulty with Australian Bushfood products is they are so innovative and different that the consumer has not yet realised how much he or she needs them. The commercialisation of innovative new crop products usually suffers because it lacks the internal company support commonly available to innovative manufactured products in the non-rural sectors of the economy. For example, innovative manufactured products are usually produced by large companies wishing to diversify Because of the companies' size, they have other products to support innovative research and development. Innovative manufactured products are often developments from other products or processes already in place.
On the other hand, new crop products are usually developed by relatively small companies, which depend on the success of the new crop product for their future. The new crop product is often entirely new in its production technology, such as the methods for harvesting and processing, requiring the development of entirely new technology,
Once an innovative manufactured product is released to the market, initial production levels can be large, supported by a significant promotional effort. However, new crop products take some time to reach significant levels of production. One of the biggest problems with promoting a new crop product, is having to guarantee a consistent supply of the innovative product of the appropriate quality, whenever and wherever the consumer wishes to try it
As a sideline, the initial demand for a truly innovative new crop product can also be misleading since the consumer will often purchase anything which is genuinely unique and unusual and will be happy to pay almost any price to secure such a product. Once the crop product is no longer unique, the consumer then determines whether he or she needs the innovative crop product, rather than the products which are commonly purchased In this situation, the initial prices paid for uniqueness no longer apply and should not be used as a basis for expansion of production The Australian bushfood industry has some particularly difficult problems cadfronting it Most if not ai the other successful new crop species recently developed in Australia have had: well recognised and established products, markets somewhere in the world where these products have been traded, well accepted protocols describing product quality and identifying the risks associated with the products' use; and long established genetic material suited to the areas in which the products have been previously produced.
The successful establishment of these new crops as commercial enterprises in Australia has involved transplanting the expertise from overseas, with local modification and adaption. The Australian Bushfoods industry is facing a range of difficulties: the innovative products currently on offer are relatively unknown and the production technology required for the stable production of a uniform product economically is not widely available. New crop commercialisation must be to make money.
But why plant a new crop rather than the crop all the neighbours grow?
Because we are curious. The Do Our Own Marketing Research (DOOR Marketing) program for new crops, developed by the New Crops Group at the University of Queensland Gatton College and colleagues in the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and the Toowoomba College of TAFE, aims to direct this curiosity instead into considering how to evaluate the marketability of new crop products.
It has recently been trialled with members of the Australian Rainforest Bushfood Industry Association at Lismore. DOOR Marketing has been developed in response to requests from the new crops industry in Australia to assist with the initial planning of new crops commercialisation.
The New Crops Group at Gatton sees marketing research as an important early step in the twelve steps developed to guide the process of new crop commercialisation: 1. the proposal of the new crop by those willing to commit themselves financially to such development and the identification of the new crop product to be produced,
2 the acknowledgment that new crops research is inherently a high risk venture, those entering new crop production in pursuit of windfall profits in the short term are no doubt seeing this venture as a part of some other financial strategy unrelated to the new crop itself;
3. the recognition of the need to protect intellectual property rights; with so much basic information available from indigenous elders, their involvement needs to be recognised;
4. the assessment of the marketing potential of the new crop product, using all relevant criteria, identifying those criteria for which no information is available; the DOOR Marketing program seeks to assist with this assessment, prompting abandonment of specific projects which have no promise of a marketable product;
5. a theoretical assessment of the production potential of the new crop using all relevant criteria, again identifying those criteria for which no information is available; it is important at this stage that large commitments to production are not made;
6. the establishment of an integrated development group comprising producers, processors, distribution and marketing teams with research providers, initially, in a facilitation role only. Once production begins in earnest, it can be anticipated that research will be required to solve problems which arise and these will be defined by the industry itself; hence the solving of new crop research problems can be put out to tender by the industry;
7. agreement within the development group of resource requirements, expected outcomes, action plans to achieve them, and the manner in which profits will be distributed;
8. the establishment of a process of project monitoring to identify and resolve problems quickly and efficiently;
9. the establishment of economic benchmarks and an agreement to abandon the project once these have not been met;
10 the establishment of a system of review to place on record the circumstances under which the project was successful or failed;
11. trial production for trial marketing;
12. trial production for trial processing and packaging and experimental production.
The aim of the DOOR-Market-ing program is to provide members of the new crops industry with a procedure to follow in determining whether a potential new crop product is marketable. The outcome of DOOR Marketing for each participant is a decision on whether to proceed with more intense (and expensive) investigations into his or her targeted new crop product. Once completed, participants are in a better position to consider if their favourite new crop product warrants a full marketing plan, or a professional business plan or should be abandoned. The course is designed to encourage participants to formulate their own understanding of possible answers for the following questions:
What is a new crop? Why are we planning to enter the new crop industry? How should we choose a new crop? How will new crops fit into our current farming system?' How will we commercialise the new crop product? What marketing information do we need to find? How will we find this information? How will we determine the marketability of the new crop product?
The learning approach adopted during the DOOR-Marketing course is different from a conventional educational course: there are no experts, of the kind we know in conventional crops, available in new crops All participants, including the facilitators, will be learners, being introduced into relatively unchartered territory, we leam if the subject matter is interesting and relevant, we are inspired/motivated to solve new crop industry problems, we will act on the solutions since we own the process that found them, all participants, include the facilitators, share the problem solving, each industry participant focusses on a single new crop, and subsequently a single new crop product to assist the learning process, competition becomes cooperation, if the new crop product targeted does not warrant any further attention because it is unmarketable, this is seen as a victory for the participant, who can use the process to pursue other leads. By this process, we hope to redirect our natural curiosity away from investing in production to investing some time in thinking about what our real purpose in new crop commercialisation is ... the process of commercialising a new crop product requires a number of other elements, all commencing with the letter 'C' and how we can achieve it. Our bushfood industry is uniquely Australian. Once its products satisfy the needs of the world's consumers, it will be successful. Marketing is the process of fulfilling the needs of consumers. The process can be delineated by a number of elements, all commencing with the letter 'PT such as product, place, promotion, price, person/people, profit etc The process of new crop marketing must also incorporate these elements.
However, the process of commercialising a new crop product requires a number of other elements, all commencing with the letter 'C' such as curiosity, communication, cooperatioa commitment, coordination, commercialisation and finally copping out (or celebration).
Dr Rob Fletcher has spoken at a number of bushfood workshops with entertaining, thought provoking and enlightening enthusiasm.
An Aboriginal Garden, Beth Gott
Research News, RIRDC Research updates
National Body, Ken Dyer Reports
From the Groups, ARBIA. SBA& AQIA
Growing a Bushfood Enterprise, Vic Cherikoff
Suckers, Sex and Seedlings, Dr Barbara Randell
Commercialisation of New Crops, Rob Fletcher provokes some thought
Famous Palates, more name dropping