Renewed interest in bush foods
A growing interest in bush foods and opportunities for harvesting produce was strong with hundreds of people attending workshops and presentations at Quorn’s Kurti Festival in October.
Quorn has a long history of commercially producing bush foods, particularly kurti (traditional Nukunu name for quandong) and the festival is reviving grower interest at a local and state level.
The South Australian Native Foods Association held a dinner for its members as part of the event, with the festival providing a renewed energy for the industry.
Wattle seed grower Angus Jones spoke about the growing opportunities for bush food products at a national and international level, with the industry expected to be worth an estimated $40m by 2025, up from $21m in 2019/2020.
Thirteen priority species are highly sought from a commercial sense. These include quandong, muntries, mountain pepper, lemon myrtle and bush tomatoes.
Mr Jones said there are many benefits to growing and harvesting native species, which include the plants being drought tolerant and easy to maintain and have the benefits or providing windbreaks and shade and shelter for livestock, improving soil health and have a relatively low cost of establishment, compared with non-native food crops such as citrus.
The bush foods can be used in a range of items including baked goods, cosmetics, teas and also sold as whole foods.
Well-known author and native food expert Neville Bonney was a draw card at the festival and spoke about bush foods and shared valuable advice on what to consider before starting a commercial operation.
He joined Ian Powell to lead a guided tour of a local Kurti orchard and the pair shared industry knowledge of growing and maintaining a productive bush food plantation.
Other popular workshops included composting and worm farming, native bees, on-farm bush production, water wise gardening, sandalwood propagation and Nukunu cultural knowledge.
The Quorn Community Landcare Group was supported by the SA Arid Lands Landscape Board and FRRR, with funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund to include the speakers over the two-day festival program.