unique indigenous food orchards on the way …

I got a mention from an interview I did on ABC Rural about our land-use future in the Tropics. Well worth a read how a new Industry will use new methods of land use we call Savannah Enrichment. The WA Government recognizes the future of horticulture using indigenous species with immense prospects.

The big advantage in the case outlined here, is to use land which is a Water Reserve for the town of Broome. No land clearing on a large scale. The Broome region is at the Western end of the Savannah Way, a belt of woodlands that stretches right across the north of Australia between the desert regions to the south and the mountains, tablelands and rainforests to the north:

Unique land deal near Broome paves way for major Kakadu plum plantation

ABC Rural Mon Dec 05 15:16:28 EST 2016


The Mamabulanjin Aboriginal Corporation intends to plant gubinge trees near Broome, WA.

ABC Rural: Matt Brann

A major plantation of Kakadu plum trees, also known as gubinge, is set to be established on the outskirts of Broome thanks to a unique land deal between the WA Government and a local Aboriginal corporation.

More than 600 hectares of State Government land, will be leased at no cost to the Mamabulanjin Aboriginal Corporation (MAC) to establish a native fruit tree orchard.

Water Minister Mia Davies said this was the first lease of its kind to be signed by the Water Corporation.

“I’ve asked the Water Corporation to identify opportunities for them to go beyond compliance, so being a good community member, and this partnership with MAC will be a step towards creating employment, economic, environmental and social benefits for Aboriginal people,” Ms Davies said.

“The project paves the way for a new industry producing native foods, using a blend of traditional and modern horticulture techniques that are chemical free, water efficient and environmentally sustainable.”

Gubinge trees to be planted first

Chief executive of MAC, Neil Gower, said a number of Indigenous plants were being considered for the site, but gubinge trees would be planted first.

He said it would not be a traditional orchard, with the gubinge trees being planted in a style known as savannah enrichment.

“We plan to be environmentally sensitive in terms of how we develop the orchard,” he said.

“We’ll be using a method called savannah enrichment, which is basically planting the native trees within the existing bush, of which there’s a number of advantages to doing that, especially around pollination.

“There is however some fire risk in doing that and we will need to make sure there are fire breaks in place before we start any mass plantings.”

Mr Gower said the site could become Australia’s biggest commercial gubinge plantation, but a lot of marketing, research and development was still needed.

“While others may be rushing in [to the gubinge industry], we’re treading carefully,” Mr Gower said.

“And we want to do the acceptable thing by the native title groups across northern Australia, who we’ll potentially be going into partnership with when we look at a processing plant.

“There’s not enough fruit in the wild harvest [to meet demand] and so this is why we’re looking to plant gubinge trees en masse through the savannah enrichment style, to create the tonnage and potentially meet the demands in the next two to three years.”

If all goes to plan, about 10,000 fruit trees, mostly gubinge, will be planted on the site by early 2018.

The WA Government said the land would be leased to MAC at no cost for the first several years, and the agreement will be revisited once the operation becomes commercially viable.

Commercial opportunities for various bush tucker plants

Tom Harley, a native tree consultant to MAC, said the commercial opportunities for a large-scale native orchard were huge.

He said there was growing demand for gubinge, but also other local plants such as pindan walnut, wild mango and native pear.

“The commercialisation of these plants has been very difficult in the past, but that’s changing, and there are companies like Ernst & Young that are looking at various investments [like this],” he said.

“I’ve been talking to some people in the east who are very interested in doing ethical, Indigenous investments.

“We feel that with pindan walnut, when it opens commercially, there’s no holding back — it [demand] could be enormous.”

Terminalia kumpaja (Pindan Walnut)

Terminalia cunninghamii (Pindan Walnut)

Terminalia ferdinandiana (Gubinge, or Kakadu Plum)

These species have extraordinary health benefits, and the ‘Plum’ can be an alternative to chemical preservatives in food. Investigative work is still being carried on at a number of Australian Universities.

Related ABC Rural stories:

Qantas adds Kakadu Plum to its menu

Kakadu plum harvest underway in remote Indigenous community

Food company adds Kakadu plum to improve shelf-life of meals

About Tom Harley

Amateur ecologist and horticulturalist and CEO of Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Inc. (Tom Harley) Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Incorporated Kimberley Environmental Horticulture (KEH) is a small group of committed individuals who promote the use of indigenous plants for the landscaping of parks and gardens. Rehabilitation of Kimberley coast, bushland and pastoral regions are also high on our agenda. This includes planting seedlings, weed control, damage from erosion or any other environmental matter that comes to our attention. We come from all walks of life, from Professionals and Trades oriented occupations, Pensioners and Students, Public Servants and the Unemployed. We have a community plant nursery where we trial many old and new species, with a view to incorporating these into our landscaping trials. Our labour force are mainly volunteers, but with considerable help from the 'work for the dole' program, Indigenous Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) groups and the Ministry of Justice, with their community work orders; in this way we manage to train many people in the horticultural skills needed for indigenous plant growing. We constantly undertake field trips that cover seed and plant collection in the Kimberley. Networking around the Kimberley region and the east Pilbara is a necessary part of promoting our activities. We consult on a range of Environmental and Landscaping matters that deal with our region. Our activities involve improving Broome's residential streetscapes by including 'waterwise' priciples in planting out nature strips. Sustainable environmental horticulture is practised by members of our group. We use existing vegetation as the backbone of any plantings, using these species to advantage when planning to develop tree forms or orchards. The Broome region is sensitive to development. Subsequently many weed species have become dominant in and around developed areas. The use and movement of heavy machinery is the biggest single cause of environmental degradation. We dont live in a 'Tropical Paradise' but on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert. The plants that survive best here, grow in well-drained pindan sand, and are found from the Dampier Peninsular southward to where average rainfall is below 600mm. When we use rainforest species, detail is important when planting, water catchment, sunlight and understorey species are all considered. The use of recycled 'grey' water is an advantage here as well as treated waste-water, although many local species do not fare well with nutrients from this source. We use waterwise planting methods which include harvesting asmuch rainwater as possible, with swales designed to hold up to 200 litres, to help recharge the local groundwater aquifer. There has been a serious decline in this aquifer over the last few years. With the fast expansion of the Broome peninsular, more and more land is being covered by concrete, iron and bitumen so that much less water is available to replenish the aquifer, allowing the salt content to become significantly higher. The small Broome Peninsular is on the south-western corner of the Dampier Peninsular (bound by Broome, Derby and Cape Leveque at the northern tip). Compaction by vehicles also inhibits water retention due to the content of our local pindan sand, hard as concrete in the dry, going to soft and sloppy mud after rain. None of us are botanists, inevitably we have got some names wrong, names changed, or have not gone to sub-species level. If you note a photo or description may be wrong, please e-mail to kimenvhort@yahoo.com.au
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One Response to unique indigenous food orchards on the way …

  1. Pingback: unique indigenous food orchards on the way … | pindanpost | Cranky Old Crow

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