Traditional owners growing native food businesses

Agriculture Victoria, in partnership with the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations (FVTOC), is supporting Aboriginal-owned organisations to develop native food and botanical businesses, such as commercial wattle seed orchards and nursery operations.

Agriculture Victoria’s Aboriginal Landholder Information Service (ALIS) recently supported a native food workshop and field tour with the First People of the Millewa-Mallee Aboriginal Corporation (FPMMAC) focused on all aspects of propagating, managing, harvesting and marketing of quandongs – a small native tree species with delicious red fruit which is notoriously tricky to grow.

Workshop presenter, Matthew Koop, a native food grower and consultant with more than 20 years’ experience, presented on how to establish, harvest and market quandongs in a commercial context.

He also provided insights into the growing and harvesting of muntries, desert limes and wattle seed. A field tour of wild quandongs outside Mildura and a tour of the FPMMAC native nursery also provided opportunity to share practical information about propagating and wild harvesting.

ALIS Project Leader Valerie Little said the growing interest in the unique flavours and health benefits of native foods is providing great opportunities for traditional owners.

“It’s allowing them to draw on their knowledge, and that of other growers, to build their businesses around both wild harvesting and selective cultivation of bush foods,” Ms Little said.

The information shared during the workshop and field tour will assist the FPMMAC with the implementation of their Djakitjuk Djanga project and provide support and networks as they move into commercial native food production.

The ALIS program provides support through training, industry contacts, advice, information, connection to networks and into other government organisations.

It is currently working with about twenty groups, organisations and individuals involved in production.

Agriculture Victoria is also supporting the corporation’s native plant foods nursery and seedbank initiative with funding from the Djakitjuk Djanga native food industry development program.

The Djakitjuk Djanga and ALIS projects align with the Victorian Government’s Agriculture strategy commitment to maximise the growth potential of key emerging industries.

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