Grassroots Grant sows bush food journey for Clare High School

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Grassroots Grant sows bush food journey for Clare High School

One student’s vision to incorporate native bush food into the school environment has opened the gate to enhanced community partnerships, greater cultural awareness and new learning opportunities.

Clare High School was successful in securing a Northern and Yorke Landscape Board Grassroots Grant in 2022-23, enabling the site to bring the student’s vision to fruition.

Agriculture teacher Lesley Squires said the initial idea from the year 12 student had grown, thanks to the grant funding and also input from local Ngadjuri people and community member Nat Sommerville providing guidance, along with local bush food businesses.

Grassroots Grant sows bush food journey for Clare High School

“While that student finished school before much of his plan could be implemented, it was thanks to his meetings with Aunty Angela (Harradine) to discuss plant selection, and his research into the Grassroots Grants funding that enabled it to happen,” she said.

Year 9 agriculture students continued the vision, undertaking an audit of plants around the school, consulting with local plant experts and began planting.

Wattle, saltbush and other natives are now thriving in dedicated bush garden areas at the school.

Last year’s year 9 studies culminated in a field trip - also enabled by the Grassroots Grants funding - with students visiting Bush DeVine Restaurant at Pauletts Winery in Polish Hill River, Footeside Farm at Eudunda, and Penobscot Farm at Watervale.

“It enabled the students to see different uses of bush foods in a real, local business setting,” Lesley said.

“At Bush DeVine, chef Tom Erkelenz cooked us some different foods using bush ingredients and then owner Ali Paulett showed us around the bush food garden.

“At Footeside Farm, we were able to see how they grow and sell their produce – things like dried saltbush - and they served us lunch, which included wattle seed rolls and bush tomato relish.

“At Watervale, Warrick Duthy showed us around Penobscot Farm where we saw how they are improving their soil through regenerative farming.”

It is anticipated the school will strengthen its partnership with local Ngadjuri people this year, with the remainder of its Grassroots Grants funding to be used to facilitate learning workshops.

A bush food trail at the school will eventually see wattles along the fence line linking into saltbush and yam daisies around the site.

“The long-term plan is to incorporate the foods into our home economics classes,” Lesley said. “Once the plants are big enough, we’ll be able to use the ingredients for cooking.

“And we hope to eventually involve the neighbouring kindergarten students and set up a yarning circle.

“This really is just a starting point, and we’re excited about what is to come, but we really wouldn’t have been able to do what we’ve done without a kick-start from the Grassroots Grants funding.”

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