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|Issue 8, Jul- Aug 1998|
The Spring edition of glossy colour mag Weekly Times Country Life carried a 10 page article on bushfoods titled 'Bush Foods Bonanza'. People featured were Meredith & Gil Freeman (grower), Merie Ferguson (quanding grower), Ross Pollard (Dorrigo pepper), Phil Summers and John Goodrich (processors), Barry Moore (Aboriginal bush tour operator), Janelle Turner, Hugh Longstaff (chef), the Gundidj Aboriginal Cooperative, Jenny Garden, Peter Gow and others from the Sapphire Coast Bush Food Group, Kevin Gallmore (chef), Doug McCauley (chef), Russell Costin (nurseryman).
The Bush Tucker Day at Trundle, central NSW, earned itself a double page colour spread in Golden Wing magazine. It sounded a great day, though, apart from snake and roo, there didn't seem to be that many bushfood dishes.
Snake and Kidney pie took out first prize. The Tiser Charlick's Feed Store of Adelaide, and their smattering of bushfood dishes got a good write up in the Food & Wine section of the Advertiser, Sept 10.
A bushfood workshop held in Toowoomba in September got gratifying coverage from both the Toowoomba Chronicle and local ABC Radio. Workshop went swimmingly.
A call for bushfoods to have a "high profile' in Olympic catering got a good media response, mainly from regional radio stations. The editor of this magazine did a half dozen or so radio interviews in which she made the point that other food sectors such as beef, fruits and vegetables, etc, will be lobbying caterers and sub-contractors for their produce to be featured.
The bushfood industry should be doing the same. BTSAust. catered the first Australian visit of the IOC at a function on Fort Denison.
Acres In their regular column on bushfoods, Acres Australia feautred Maleny firm Basically Wild Edible Art in a two page spread. Sept 1998.
Ednas Table launched their book 'Ednas Table' and continuetrJget good media exposure.
Open House Foodservice had articles on Sails on the Desert (NT), Cradle Mountain Lodge (TAS) and Ednas Table (NSW), highlighting their bushfood dishes.
Eco Echo, Issue 54, had an article by Adrian Walker on bush tucker.
Australian Gardener, Mar-Apr 98 carried an article on Bunyas by Susan Parsons.
Warm Earth #22 - Sue Paul looked at bushfod beverages. Permaculture International Journal. Issue 66 had a profile on rosellas phis recipes.
Landscaping Australian Style, Vol 2, No 4 had an article entitled 'Grow Your Own Bush Tucker'. Australian Country Style, Nov 98. features wild food to cook at home.
The Mudgee Native Food Growers Group has organised a two day seminar on growing and marketing Australian native foods. Andrew Beal of Australian Native Produce Industries SA will be a guest speaker at the function, which will also feature Ian Tolley OAM, an international citricuiture and nursery specialist and John McCarthy; a native food researcher for 15 years and formerly the chief propagator with the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Subjects to be covered include species selection, ground preparation, husbandry; harvesting and marketing. The event will be held November 6th and 7th.
For further informationand bookings, contact Mickael Maianot on (02) 63 64 51:51
An introduction to bushfoods workshop held at Toowoomba in September saw the Toowoomba and Region Environment Council's hall filled with people keen to know more - and taste the foods themselves. They weren't disappointed.
A full bushfood lunch, prepared by Join Wrench, was part of the day's proceedings.
There is a buzz on CompuServe's Cooks Online forum about a mythical Australian pudding called wattallappamni which reportedly contains coconut and cashews. Is there such a thing? Can anyone supply a recipe?
From the SGAP Site:
Native Knowledge Pty Ltd has produced a CD, 'Native Australian Tree Index Visual Encyclopaedia" (NATIVE), an interactive computer software program which has been designed to provide the user with information on a wide range of native plants. The program is simple to use and is of great use for those with little knowledge of native plants right through to those who make their living from propagating native plants. It contains:
* Colour photographs of plants in their mature state and/or in flower.
* A selection filter which enables even those with little knowledge of native plants to make an accurate plant selection.
* The details function gives a visual display of the criteria of the plant selected.
* It produces a colour fact sheet with helpful information that can be printed.
* A notes function which enables the user to store additional information of a specific plant. Available for $245.00 a copy. (RRP) from Native Knowledge Pty Ltd C/O- Unit 6. 15 Marine Parade St. Kilda. Vic 3182
Plants for Cold Climates:
Lyndall Thorburn made the following response to a request for information on plants suitable for cold climates: "We in Canberra get pretty chilly seasons - winters down to minus 1 and frost frost frost (except this year which has been rain rain rain). Ground doesn't freeze over through. SGAP Canberra has a website and on it are all the Aust spp in our database - around 850 plants, all with descriptions. These might be useful for people trying to identify plants or find growing conditions The address is: http://www.anbg.gov.au/sgap
brought to you by
My thanks to Brian Lizotte for suggesting we change this column's name from 'Stomachs' to 'Palates' - perhaps we should run a competition for the best title...
High lights from the menu(s):
Vegetarian Bush sushi
Roasted vegetable stack drizzled with bush tomato vinagrette
Marinated Yamba King Prawn with wild lime dressing
Snowy River rainbow trout drizzled with eucalytpus, munthari berry and lemon butter and served on warrigal greens & Chinese greens
Casino Veal encrusted with macadamia nut and fresh herbs, served on kumera mash with native pepper demi glaze
Northen Hapuka fish served with warrigal greens, wrapped in paperbark and topped with lemon myrtle butter
Jaffa Chocolate terrine topped with citrus sauce and wattleseed cream
Assorted bush breads with native butter
More than a Morsel - the Uniquely Australian Catering Experience Ph: 02 8338 0055 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The following is a synopsis of an extenshe report prepared for bushfood growers and the industry at large by Dr Kenneth Dwyer, President of Southern Vales Bush Foods,
Clarendon SA 5157 Ph (08) 8383 6263 email email@example.com au
The food industry with which this report is concerned has a number of very specific features which make the establishment of a nation-wide, all-industry Peak Industry Body problematic. It also has a number of characteristics which most other developing food/agricultural/rural industries have faced and are still facing.
Perhaps the most important unique feature of the industry is that there is no unanimity on what it should be called. A variety of names are in common usage including Bush Tucker, Bushfood, Bush Foods, Native Foods, Wild Foods and Australian Foods.
This report follows the most common usage ie 'bushfood" but does not necessarily endorse that usage. Issues concerning the names and nomenclature for this industry, like so main others, are of crucial importance. This is not just a question of marketing in Australia, although that is important enough There are legal issues concerning accurate names, cultural issues concerning Aboriginal heritage, ownership and sensibilities and there are international issues surrounding recognition and meaning of words such as "bush", 'native" and 'tucker'.
Every business and person involved in the industry has had to face and continues to have to face these issues and so it would be presumptuous to make too far-reaching suggestions here. Nevertheless everyone involved in the industry, whether they use Australian idiom or the most conventional of internationally accepted business nomenclature in their business/product names and marketing strategies, would have to be happy with the names chosen for the various organisations ie that they are compatible with their image.
The names chosen would obviously also have to serve the obvious functions of clearly identifying the nature and purpose of the peak body in question and contributing to the promotion of the industry as a whole in ways which are culturally and environmentally sensitive but also commercially astute.
The opening section of this report considers some of the general and specific issues facing the bushfood industry. (This will be covered in Issue 9 of the magazine.)
This report reviews the unique features of the emerging bushfood industry and those features which it shares with all emerging enterprises. It reviews, very briefly, the history of attempts to establish a national body for the industry and summarises the trials and tribulations that body has faced. It incorporates notes of a meeting held in December 1997 at which representatives of the regional bushfood growers organisations met together with representatives from ANBIC Ltd, the Company Limited by Guarantee established in early 1997 and representatives from related organisations, in order to consider the future of ANBIC and whether an additional or new peak organisation was needed for the industry.
At that meeting a Working Party was established to canvas the views of the growers and to make recommendations on the future structure of the industry. That Working Party sought the views of growers in the industry.
This report is based in part on the modest feedback which was received by the convenors of the Working Party. It recommends that a national, industry-wide Peak Industry Body be not established at the present time. It recommends that an interim body to serve primarily growers and harvesters interests be established and that one of the tasks of that body be to prepare for the establishment of a true, national, peak industry body. List of recommendations
1. The establishment of a nation-wide National Peak Industry Body for the bushfood industry should not be proceeded with at due present time.
2. A Peak Sectoral Body should be established representing wild harvesters, growers, and conservationists of Australian Bushfood plants and producers of bushfood products.
3 Membership of a Peak Sectoral Body, an Australian Bushfood Growers and Harvesters Association, should be open to individuals, regional growers associations and non-grower groups closely associated with the wild harvesting, conservation of and revegetanon using Australian native food plants
4 Payments to and voting power within a peak Sectorial body should be based on an individual/individual business basis either directly or via regional associations
5. An Australian Bushfood Growers and Harvesters Association should actively seek Aboriginal involvement, by encouraging membership of Aboriginal Land Councils and other Aboriginal organisations and individuals.
6. An Australian Bushfood Growers and Harvesters Association should be established initially on an informal basis and one of its first tasks should be to consider in more detail the nature of and substantive constitution of the organisation which would best meet the aspirations of those members of the industry engaged primarily in growing, wild harvesting from, and conserving Australia's native bushfoods plants.
7. The initial informally organised body of growers and harvesters should carry out as many of the functions needed of a Peak Sectoral Body as it is able, and should consider as a matter of primacy whether ANBIC Ltd can be a suitable vehicle for a permanent growers and harvesters organisation, and that it urgently seek to establish a comprehensive database of all growers and producers in the industry.
8. The interim Australian Bushfood Growers and Harvesters Association should consult as widely as possible on the most appropriate name for the substantive organisation. A name should be sought which is likely to attract members, be memorable and be in accord with the philosophy of this sector of the industry.
9. A small interim Executive Committee should be established for ABGHA including single representatives from each of the established regional bushfood associations, representation for individual growers, for wild harvesters and from the members and associate members referred to in Recommendations 3, 4 and 5.
10. The interim Executive Committee of the informal body should, after wide consultation, propose a Constitution for the substantive Peak Sectoral Body (or recommend such amendments to the ANBIC constitution as are deemed necessary), and have them approved by a majority of members of the interim body. The Executive Committee of the new permanent Peak Sectoral Body (or new Directors of ANBIC) should be elected in accordance with such a Constitution.
11. The establishment of a true, national, industry-wide Peak Industry Body should be a medium term objective of the Peak Sector Body. Such a body would need to be as comprehensive as possible to be effective. It should eventually aim to include the following:
(i) One or more groups representing primarily wild harvesters, and others concerned with Australian flora such as SGAP, Landcare Groups and the like;
(ii) One or more groups primarily representing 'typical' bushfood growers large and small;
(iii) Established groups such as the Australian Macadamia Association, the Quandong Industry Association, the West Australian Nut and Tree Crop Association;
(iv) one or more groups primarily representing those in the food distribution/processing/manufacturing industry;
(v) a group primarily representing the tourist and hospitality sectors of the industry; (vi) a group primarily representing the research/education/training sectors.
12. One of the first tasks of the new Peak Sectoral Body should be to encourage the establishment of State bodies concerned with the native food industry as a whole. As and when they are established such State bodies should have representation on a Peak Industry Body. The question of their voting rights on that body should be decided prior to them joining.
13. The question of whether individuals or groups concerned with native animal food products be allowed to join or become affiliated with the national Peak Industry Body should be considered by that body as a matter of urgency when it is established.
14. A small subcommittee comprising representatives of the existing four major regional bushfood organisations should be established to form a reconstituted working group. The task of that subcommittee should be to:
(a) manage further consultation;
(b) consult with and obtain information from organistaions in Australia with similar aims, objectives and problems to those of the bushfood industry;
(c) produce a revised report;
(d) take such steps as are necessary to establish an initial, informal, precursor to a substantive Peak Sectoral Body which would serve as an Australian Bushfood Growers and Harvesters Association and which would carry out the recommendations made in the body of this report.
Dr Kenneth F Dyer, President, Southern Vales Bush Foods Inc., Clarendon SA 5157 Ph (08) 8383 6263 email: firstname.lastname@example.org au.
Readers wishing to have the full text of Dr Dyer's report should contact the magazine or Dr Dyer himself:
what's to be found in the newsletters
ACUMINATUM, Winter 98 Newsletter of the Australian Quandong Industry Ass.
Bushfood News, Sept 1998. Newsletter of the Aus. Rainforest Bushfood Industry Ass.
ARBIA, PO Box 6407, S. Lismore NSW 2480
Southern Bushfood Ass. August 1998 Newsletter
SBA, 21 Smith St Thornbury Vic 3071
Lemon myrtle butter sauce
Prep. time 5 minutes
This method is the same for native aniseed myrtle, native thyme or mountain pepper and their applications are also identical.
Pepperberries can also be used for butter sauces although the burgundy colour of the berries is better presented in a white or cream sauce or simply added as a garnish on their own, in combination with coloured peppercorns or with sweet corn kernels for colour contrast.
Reduce chicken, veal or fish stock as appropriate to a jus.
Remove from heat and add lemon myrtle at the rate of 5g ground lemon myrtle per litre reduced stock (0.5%).
Allow the herb flavour to infuse for half a minute, then finish the reduced stock with cold butter.
For lemon aspen butter, add lemon aspen juice to jus at about 3% (do not mix with any other citrus) and finish the reduced stock with cols butter.
Refried bunya nut pastry
Prep. time 40 mins
100g Bunya bunya nuts halves
1 tablespoon wholemeal flour
Boil the bunya nuts in water for 10 minutes and remove the nut meat from the half shells. Reserve the shells for use when smoking meat.
If using whole bunya nuts see Bunya nut product/glossary sheet for shelling technique explanation. In a food processor, blend the nuts with sufficient cream to make a just-pourable purée.
Mix in the flour.
Transfer the purée to a large heated pan and stir the mixture while heating to both tan the mixture and cook it to a roux stage.
The fat in the cream should be sufficient to grease the pan and the cooking time will be around 15 minutes to completion when the mixture reaches a roux stage and begins to come away from the sides of the pan.
Put the refried bunya pastry into a pie tin or cake tray as appropriate, and using baking paper, push out to form the pastry base leaving the paper in place once done.
Use dry rice or beans to hold down the pastry and cook blind at 220ºC for 20 minutes.
To make bunya nut marbles, ball spoonfuls of the refried pastry and serve or roll in bread crumbs or crumbed muesli. Fry in heated butter or oil to brown.
Serve hot or cold.
Light Lemon myrtle mayonnaise
Prep. time 5 mins
350g no fat or low fat ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
5g ground Lemon myrtle
100ml polyunsaturated oil
Mix together the cheese, mustard, lemon myrtle and salt. Add the oil in a very thin stream whisking constantly until the sauce is smooth and thick. Leave stand 10 minutes for the flavours to infuse or else store chilled overnight.
Prep. time 30 mins
4 medium potatoes, peeled and finely grated
1 x 65g egg, lightly beaten
a generous pinch of salt
30g corn flour oil for shallow frying
Soak the grated potatoes in cold water for 20 minutes, drain and pat-dry with paper towelling. Mix in the akudjura, egg, salt and corn flour adding extra corn flour if the mix is too wet. Heat the oil in a small heavy frying pan over moderate heat and fry potato cakes until crisp and golden on both sides.
Sydney rock oyster soup with yam, ginger and lemon aspen juice
Thick butternut pumpkin soup garnished with mountain pepper BBQ sauce and sour cream
Bush tomato soup with basil sour cream
Dundee's crocodile soup made hot and sour with native pepperberries and wild limes
Chicken or Fish soup (or clam chowder) with lemon aspen juice, soy and ginger
Miso vegetable soup with lemon myrtle (hot or cold)
Rich red bean gumbo (with mountain pepper and akudjura)
Australian tom yum soup (Thai-style soup with sweet corn and rainforest lime splash)
Beetroot and cabbage borsch with mountain pepper and aniseed myrtle
Chicken soup with bush berries (munthari) and wild mushrooms
Hot and spicy lentil soup (with our native peppers and akudjura)
Vegetarian, prawn or chicken laksa (Indonesian spicy soup) with lemon myrtle pasta
Butternut pumpkin, macadamia and bunya nut soup
Paperbark smoked sweet potato soup with crispy kangaroo prosciutto
Duck, orange and wattle soup
Lamb, barley (or rainforest herb pasta*) and wild mint Scotch broth
Chicken consommé with outback (akudjura and cheese) (or native mint) dumplings
Kangaroo consommé with a wonton of paperbark smoked kumara
Honey, rhubarb (or beetroot) and wild rosella* soup (served with yoghurt) (hot or cold)
Sweet rainforest (lemon aspen) chilli soup (hot or cold)
by Vic Cherikoff
Many growers coming into the bushfood industry are literally, building a business from the ground up. Like many businesses, particularly innovative ones, the similarity to a hobby in the early years is not coincidental and the move to a viable and long term, moneymaking venture is thwart with challenges. As the first to significantly commercialise native foods in Australia I had to face uncertain supplies, inconsistent quality and a market completely ignorant of both the products and their applications.
I would like to use the benefit of my 20/20 hindsight to give some strategies for shortening the time for the progression from hobby to business.
This is not to say that the following does not include some of what I can say now, not what I did then. We would probably all do some things differently if ever given the chance.
One valuable concept which is entering the world of personal development (a burgeoning, multi-billion dollar industry worldwide) is that of giving more to get more. It has significant application in the bushfood industry. Bush Tucker Supply Aust has its huge Internet website (www.bushtucker. com. au) which gets over 40,000 hits a month. It has proven to be a valuable commitment to giving more, saving large amounts of time in educating and maintaining the market as well as generating some direct sales as a secondary function.
I recommend this investment to any business selling to a broad market despite the cost of establishing a site and then continuously maintaining and updating it. This article and those of all the other authors in the Bushfood Magazine are examples of people giving more. Provide your customers (wholesalers, retailers, manufacturers and any others) with more quality, more information, more communication, more service, etc.
An important point here, is to make sure the recipient is aware of what you are giving. How many times do you see free offers and are not motivated to take up the freebie?
Make sure that the offer can be easily assessed and then be highly valued so that your target market responds quickly and positively. Remember the question 'what if they held a war and nobody came?'
A very difficult task while growing a business is to pay yourself first (as your accountant will certainly be urging). It is easier said than done but must be a primary aim of your venture and addressed sooner rather than later even if it means growing more slowly. Additionally, work out the means to establish a number of sources of income, preferably one of them asset based so that you can be earning an income while plants are growing, markets are being built or on that rare occasion when you are doing nothing (I am told this happens).
It must be a great feeling when you get away on that skiing holiday, to know that you are better off financially at the top of the chairlift than when you got on at the bottom. It will only happen when you get assets working for you.
This also provides significant security to your operations should disaster occur and the income from your labour disappears. The rich earn, spend and then pay tax whereas everyone else seems to earn, pay tax and then spend what little is left.
This strategy only works if most of your disposable income comes from assets and not from your labour and most businesses should use this routine as well. But back to paying yourself first. If your business has any cashflow it means that value is being added. T
his may be as a grower, wholesaler, distributor, processor or even in promotions or education. If your efforts add no value then by all means, do not pay yourself! Find another activity or keep whatever you are doing as a hobby. By the same token, if you are skimping on rewarding your own efforts then this makes you greedy. Confused? Consider the comment that those who do not make enough money in their business are greedy because the only people they help is themselves.
The more they contribute to building their business or an industry-, the wealthier they must become Work out how to pay yoursdf If your business can lease your farm from you, arrange it. Organise a loan from yourself to your business and pay yourself interest even if it is in bushfoods inkialh Pay yourself regularly and increase your reward so that you avoid getting trapped irato a poverty mentality You are going to be successful It is only a matter of time A corollary of the above is to avoid those who prey on an industry* adding no real value through tax-driven schemes with dishonest representations, skimming management fees with no real products Do your due diligence and assess their ill-researched claims and inflated promises These scammers contribute no permanent wealth or strength to the industry. In fact, they do short-term damage to industries and more to themselves for the future. The bushfood's briefhistory indudes the emu farm management industry in W. A. in the late 1980s. This is a good example ofboth - the scammers and their short lives in the industry. It has taken many years for the emu industry to regain its position as a viable force in game meat supply and for the many honest operators to shake off the fast-buck legacy Your business should be structured so that, as soon as possible, you have several income streams Consider every purchase (is it an asset - producing money - or a liability?)
Interestingly, the family home is in fact, a liability not an asset as generally regarded (although it is obviously an asset for the banks if you borrow money for a mortgage).
The clever approach would be to either finance your home purchase through the returns on your assets or at least, have a home-based business to use in offsetting your mortgage and running costs. The next task is to raise your energy level in what you do and how you act and see others respond. People like to be around energetic, motivated people and avoid lethargic, negative ones. It is important to positively direct your energies. Personal development courses and motivational programs all stress that having written goals for yourself and your business is critical. Visualise your success and your future and put realistic timeframes in place. Obviously, with some businesses, a business plan has to stay flexible and the result may be more of a list of strategic directions than a conventional sales/costs/profit projection. Markets can still be clarified and quantified. Turnover targets can be set and the various steps to achieve your outcomes can be considered. You know the adage about failing to plan is planning to fail. However, if your personal goals, your business plan, your success strategy and your preferred ultimate future are enshrined in a visual form you are on the way to succeeding.
Many hobby-businesses start with three processes in the wrong order: these are
Are you busy constantly but with few outcomes and mixed purposes? Concentrate on activities which are directed by purpose and can achieve a preferred outcome and you are on the right road.
Another adage is; imagine climbing the ladder to success only to find its leaning on the wrong wall. This can be avoided by planning your purpose and knowing your outcomes before getting involved in actually doing the activities. I would hope that even this brief insight into the world of personal development and success strategies motivates you to examine your bushfood venture with these ends in mind.
It may be that you have read to the end of this article and are ready to move on to the next article, go back to thinking about bushfoods or get on with the next distraction in your life. Before you go, can I ask you whether your life is like a comfortable coffin with the lid off (just waiting for that final step) or can you honestly say, "I can die tomorrow and have no regrets? I have achieved what I set out to do or am completely satisfied with things so far. More is obviously better but I could die now without that feeling of having wasted my time." Or would you be more likely to say "There's still so much more I have to do to feel even partly satisfied with my brief stint on this planet."
Please re-read and think about what I have written above. I challenge you to apply the principles. What if you do? What if you don't? What if you do and it works9 Good luck. (Its amazing how hard you have to work to get lucky)
Two firms run by women have been making headlines recently - and taking out awards...
Wildbite are the proud winners of the Lismore Business Award for Best New Business. After only four months producing their delicious range of biscuits and slices, Trace Gordon and Roe Ritchie, creators of wildbite, are honoured to have received the award.
"It has been a very interesting process for us to set up this business. About eight months ago we had a very simple idea - to create delicious gourmet biscuits and slices using the best of Australian wildfood ingredients. Our idea was to target our wildbite biscuits, not to overseas tourists, but rather to people living here in Australia, many of whom are still unfamiliar with the unique tastes of our rainforest and dryland regions. "We hit the kitchen and experimented wildly, we talked to everyone we possibly could about the gourmet biscuit business, about doing business on the North Coast, about consistency and quality of local supply, about distribution systems and selling techniques. We planned and schemed and researched and dreamed."
"But still there was this tiny thought in the back of our minds. "Just because we think this wildfood biscuit caper is a good idea, doesn't necessarily mean anybody else will. And if it's such a good idea - why isn't anybody else doing it? It's hard to describe," says Trace "the satisfaction of putting our biscuits out there in cafes, resorts and delis and to have such fantastic feedback from people. We've had a great response, even fan mail, from cow cockies, food writers, chefs, kids, indigenous Australian and overseas travellers, wildbite seems to have broad appeal, which is so fantastic."
Over the last few months the pair have been working hard to establish a strong foundation with retailers around the north coast region. wildbite sell their Wattleseed and White Chocolate Cookie, Lemon Myrtle and Coconut Slice and Macadamia and Lemon Myrtle Biscotti in Caddies and Cafe Moet in Lismore, The Teahouse at The Channon and to cafes, delis and resorts in Byron Bay, Ballina and Queensland, wildbite biscuits can be bought individually or in take home gift packs - wildbite is launching a gift box range in time for Christmas. The Macadamia and Lemon Myrtle Biscotti and the Wattleseed and White Chocolate are packaged in stylish corrugated cardboard cubed boxes with the blue and gold wildbite heart on the lid.
"Our dream is to have wildbite biscuits in gourmet delis, giftshops and cafes not only across the North Coast but in Sydney and Melbourne by the end of next
year. We are heading to Sydney at the end of the month to meet with gourmet food distributors there."
wildbite can contacted on:
Roe Ritchie and Trace Gordon
Wild About Gold
Wild About You Bushfoods (run by Mary ann Thomas) has won Gold for the second year in a row at the Royal Melbourne Show. In fact, having won 6 Gold last year, they took out not one but ten (10!) Gold Medals and one Silver this year.
Wild About You Bushfoods specialise in hand crafted products using Belgian chocolate and Australian native fruits and nuts. Products that took Gold in the confectionary division: Quandong truffles, Wattleseed truffles, Wild Lime truffles, Illawarra plum, Lemon myrtle, Handcrafted dark chocolate and milk chocolate platypus, Chocolate assortment in pine box, Chocolate assortment in pillow pack, Small retail pack.
Wild About You Bushfoods Ph: 03 9530 6844
Plant breeding for quandong growers.
By Dr Barbara R Randell; Randell Environmental Enterprises Pty Ltd
The quandong is one of the few native Australian fruits which has the potential to become a significant orchard crop. To achieve that, it will have to be improved from its current native state. That is, Santalum acuminatum -Quandong
horticulturalists and farmers will have to breed new varieties, selecting for example, the healthiest plants, those that mature earliest, resist the most diseases, grow in the most diverse climates, or produce the best fruits. All that sounds impossible, but it has been done in the past with all our domesticated crops, from wheat to grapes to macadamias. So there is no reason why it should not be done in quandongs also. Horticulturalists in previous centuries have relied on their own observations, and luck, to improve the plants they were developing. Today's plant breeders can use the knowledge provided by science to understand their plants, and so speed up many times the rate of achieving success.
Today I want to share with you this scientific knowledge of how flowering plants like quandong reproduce, the types of behaviour that are of most interest to plant breeders, and the various quirks adopted by individual plant species that may be present in quandong; and that may hinder someone trying to breed new varieties. Then finally, I will make some suggestions about which techniques might produce the quickest results in quandong. I should emphasise that I am not an expert on quandong, but I have studied Australian plants, and how they reproduce, for many years.
How (and why) plants reproduce
Most people are familiar with the idea that animals are 'driven' by the urge to reproduce., to leave behind offspring which will mean that they are not quite obliterated when they die. Their memory, their characteristics and/or their genes will continue. Perhaps fewer people realise that plants also are programmed to struggle to leave offspring. Plants in one sense, are luckier than animals Most animals are forced to rely on co-operation with another individual (sexual reproduction) to reproduce. Many plants, if not the majority, have available forms of reproduction which bypass sexuality, and do not require a second individual. This reproduction is termed a-sexual.
Types of reproduction
Asexual reproduction produces offspring that are identical genetically. A with their single parent.. like 'Dolly' the cloned sheep born last year. Dolly began as a single cell, and was born after a normal pregnancy within a female sheep. More recently the newspaper carried a photo of cloned calves. Asexual reproduction in plants is simpler. Many plants are able to produce offspring by:
suckers (branches from the roots becoming independent plants) eg willows, poplars, athel trees runners (branches from the stem becoming independent plants) eg couchgrass. strawberris; ribbon plants
buds or bulbils (small bodies which break off from the parent, and grow into whole plants) Eg soursobs, mother-of-millions
In addition, gardeners have discovered ways to intervene so that many identical offspring can be produced from single plants without sex eg by taking cuttings, by air-layering, by grafting and budding, or by tissue culture. Some plants have developed natural methods of producing seeds (usually a sexual process), without having gone through the sexual process, eg some she-oaks and bottlebrushes (Casuarina. Callistemon).
There is also a group of fruit crops which cannot produce seeds eg bananas, pineapples, navel oranges, sultana grapes These are only able to produce offspring asexually; by suckenng or runners, or when a gardener takes cuttings. These asexual methods of reproduction all create offspring identical to each other and to the parent. This can have devastating consequences in some circumstances, eg. The Potato famine in Ireland, which led to thousands of deaths, and mass emigration to America and Australia, was caused by a disease which infected the staple This can have devastating consequences in some circumstances, eg. The Potato famine in Ireland, which led to thousands of deaths, and mass emigration to America and Australia, was caused by a disease which infected the staple food crop. Potatoes were reproduced by asexual means (dividing the tubers), so all the plants in all the crops were genetically identically. If one plant could be killed by the disease, all of them could be... and were. Thousands of people died of starvation. We must never again become dependent on a single asexual strain of any one food crop.
A second consequence of having a plant which can no longer reproduce sexually is that there is no variation between individuals. All of them have similar leaves, flowers and fruits, and all are adapted to survive in the current conditions. Should those conditions change in the future (for example, through higher temperatures, drier climates, raised carbon dioxide levels), so that the current strain is no longer able to survive, there is no chance that new forms will evolve to cope with new situations. The plants will die, and the species become extinct. Similarly, there is no variability available to allow plant breeders to select better crop strains, or to interbreed and select better forms. For example, new varieties of potatoes depend on breeding from sexual species which still survive in the high Andes mountains of South America. Plants which are restricted to asexual reproduction do not produce new varieties, so are generally of no use to plant breeders. The situation in sexual reproduction is verv different
Sexual reproduction produces offspring by combining sex cells. Because nc two sex cells are identical, then no two of the offspring are identical. They may be very similar, but no two are identical. (Eg in humans, non-identical twins are both produced by independent sexual reproduction: identical twins are produced by an asexual process after a single sexual reproduction) As we said previously, this variability between the non-identical offspring provides the raw material for future evolution, and for selection of better crop plants by plant breeders.
In plants like quandong, sexual reproduction takes place in flowers and seeds/seedlings are the results. To understand the process, you need to understand the structure of a typical flower. The two outer layers of the flower are sterile ie. not involved in reproduction themselves. The outermost, usually green, sepals protect the flower before it opens; the inner petals, usually coloured, attract the insects and birds which will pollinate the flower. In some plants one or both of these sterile layers is missing. In the quandong, there is only one layer (called tepals) of 4 pointed organs which are fused into a tube for much of their length. The tepals protect the flower buds, are dull coloured outside, and reddish inside. Within the petals, there is a ring of stamens. These end in sacs , called anthers, filled with dust-like pollen grains. One of the 2 types of sex cells is produced inside each pollen grain. In quandongs, the anthers are attached one at the middle of each tepal, at about the level where the four points separate Right in the centre of the flower is the globular ovary, bearing a stalk-like style topped with a flat stigma. Inside the ovary there are a number of ovules, which will develop into seeds. The second sex cell is produced inside the ovule. In quandong, there is usually only a single ovule in each ovary, and only one seed develops from each flower. As it does not move, the sex cell in the ovule is considered 'female' and called the 'egg cell', while the pollen is considered "male'. When both sex cells are mature, they must combine to ensure reproduction. This can only be achieved when the pollen moves from the anther to the stigma (pollination). Sometimes, it is moved by wind, or else insects or birds may carry it. In quandongs, the pollen is probably moved by insects like beetles, visiting the flowers to feed on the pollen. (I make this assumption based on the structure of the flower, and comparison with other flowers where the pollinator is known.) When it lands on the stigma, the pollen grain grows a long tube down through the style and into the ovule. There a sex cell from within the pollen tube fuses with the egg cell (fertilisation), and a tiny new plant is produced inside the ovule. As the new plant develops, the wall of the ovule becomes protective, and forms the seed coat. The ovary wall also changes, and becomes the fruit. It may become stony, fleshy or papery. (In quandongs, the flesh used for jam is part of the ovary wall, and so also is the stone.
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