What's the word on native foods?
Well-known author and native food expert Neville Bonney was a draw card at the Quorn Kurti Festival in October, speaking about bush foods and sharing valuable advice on what to consider before starting a commercial operation.
Twice speaking at the town hall during the event, Neville told his audience that bush tucker had once had a negative overtone in Australia, due to our reptiles and insects.
He said that impression had changed about 40 years ago when suddenly there was a place for wild foods on our tables.
“To me, bush tucker is an edible food source that has been foraged from the earth and eaten in its true state. Today, it’s more cultivated, improved by selection and cooked,” he said.
Mr Bonney said there was renewed interest in bush foods and while the International demand is there, it would be stronger with a consistent supply.
His best tip for growing a good crop of quandongs was to create a healthy biodiversity around the crops that includes lots of native grasses. He reminded the audience that quandong pollinators were ants and insects, rather than birds. They also like moisture when setting their fruit.
As for the grub that is often found in the fruit, he said the bugs lay their larvae in the bark of the tree.
“You need to work out what keeps the moth in control. Create a healthy biodiversity and you will have some tiny moths that will predate the eggs,” he said.
“You must clean up your fallen fruit. That’s the most important thing.”
Asked for his advice for grafting and raising new plants, Neville said: “I have tried all the ways”.
He said while grafting onto root stock was possible, it was not an easy process.
“Kernels germinate very easily. The best way I have found is to take your fresh seed, wrap it in wet newspaper and keep it damp. Have a pot or ground ready to go and keep them watered until they grow,” he said.
“They can’t be transplanted. The best trees just pop up.”