Guest speaker at the Bush Foods for Sustainable Farming seminar Neville Bonney takes some cuttings of Gil and Meredith Freeman’s Island Celery. It was a seed the Freemans collected from an isolated island in Bass Strait, which has thrived in their Kardella garden. D074215.

Guest speaker at the Bush Foods for Sustainable Farming seminar Neville Bonney takes some cuttings of Gil and Meredith Freeman’s Island Celery. It was a seed the Freemans collected from an isolated island in Bass Strait, which has thrived in their Kardella garden. D074215.

BUSH foods are creating a buzz, not just through the restaurant trade, but increasingly for medicinal and cosmetic uses as well.
It’s clear there is a market, but how exactly do you get started and how do you incorporate them into your farm?
These questions were answered at a recent Bush Foods for Sustainable Farming seminar held last week at Ruby, followed by a farm visit to Gil and Meredith Freeman’s Kardella farm Tarnuk Bush Foods.
Participants at the workshop heard however, before going on to grand plans to change the bare dairy paddocks into a rambling rainforest filled with bush-food plants, not planning is planning to fail.
First – it’s essential to know the market: Can you provide the scale it requires?; Do those markets have the capacity or desire to buy and use the products you could produce?; Can you get your produce to the market?
From there, planning can begin.
Leading the discussion was Neville Bonney (ethnobotanist and Wattleseed grower), representatives from the Australian Native Food Industry and the Australian Agroforestry Foundation.

Meredith Freeman shows how the strawberry gum (Eucalyptus olida) is harvested on the family’s bush foods farm. D094215.

Meredith Freeman shows how the strawberry gum (Eucalyptus olida) is harvested on the family’s bush foods farm. D094215.

Participants were shown how a local operation has grown, so much so, the Freemans are never short of orders to make up each week with their bush foods operation.
The Freemans farm nine acres – orchards, native garden, vegetable garden and an Australian indigenous ‘food forest’.
The plants in the food forest are predominantly indigenous to Southern Australia, however there have been other plants introduced that adapt well – including macadamias, lemon myrtle and others.
Much of the focus is on native culinary herbs, with fruit and nuts including lemon aspen, Davidsons plum, Illawarra plum and vegetables like warrigal greens, island celery and murrnong.
The Freemans led a walk through their farm where visitors were able to continue their taste testing of Australian bushfoods from the session at Ruby.
The workshop was funded through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and delivered through the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority.