Cultural burns have been around for tens of thousands of years.
But in the northeastern Victorian town of Mallacoota, soon to be new, it’s a center for people to learn about native fire management.
In what’s dubbed an Australian first, the Indigenous Traditional Agriculture Knowledge Center is being built in Coastal Cove, which was ravaged by the Black Summer bushfires.
Work is underway on a farm owned by Dark Emu author Bruce Pascoe, who has Yuin, Bunurong, and Tasmanian origins.
“The management of the fires and the indigenous lands has taken care of and taken care of the country. We are rediscovering these techniques and developing the most viable ways to grow native grains and tubers on a commercial scale, ”said Pascoe.
The farm’s business, Black Duck Foods, is reintroducing a range of Indigenous practices and trying to determine how Indigenous people can benefit financially.
Employees Chris Harris, Nathan Lygon and Terry Hayes grow native foods, including chocolate and vanilla lily tubers and murnong (daisy yam), and kangaroo, dance and harpoon weed kernels.
“We are working hard here right now so that we can pass our knowledge on to the rest of our people,” said Mr Harris, from Ngiyampaa in New South Wales.
“That way, when they start an Indigenous food business, they don’t have to make the same mistakes we’ve made before.
The central project was funded by the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia and promotes a return to indigenous agriculture, including the use of fire.
“For tens of thousands of years, aborigines have used fire to manage the landscape in a way that increases the yield of important foods and minimizes damaging bushfires,” said Dermot O’Gorman, CEO of WWF- Australia.
“Let’s take this ancient knowledge and reform western farming practices to regenerate Australia as climate change causes more extreme weather conditions. “
On-farm research with Black Duck Foods is also examining how a European diet contributed to high levels of diabetes in indigenous populations.
“So many diseases among Aborigines come from poor nutrition, so I look forward to the day when all Australians eat these foods regularly,” said Mr. Lygon, a Yuin man with connections to Walgal.
A man of Bidhawal Maap Djiringanj, Mr. Hayes goes further.
“I would love to see these foods available all over the world,” he said.
“This is just the start. Hopefully more crowds can do this kind of work across the country and create jobs for our people.”
Black Duck Foods chief executive Chris Andrew believes a return to indigenous farming techniques is resonating with people.
“Why not grow food that is natural in Australia and does not require any fertilizer? ” he said.
“Traditional fire and land management practices can rebuild resilient landscapes and enable us to better manage a changing climate.
“He has supported Indigenous Australians for tens of thousands of years. It’s time to bring him back.”