The Bush Tucker Garden at The Living Classroom will help to re-write our history

June 3, 2016

Bush Tucker is the common term used to describe the diet of indigenous Australians. It is of no doubt, that the first inhabitants of this continent, fed themselves well on the food that it provided. In nearly all accounts written by the first European explorers and settlers, the natives were described as ‘fit and healthy’, and yet the plants and animals that have dominated our agriculture since 1788 have been imported.

This month, author Bruce Pascoe, won the Premier’s Prize for Literature claiming ‘Book of the Year’ for ‘Dark Emu’. Pascoe re-visited the logbooks of the first explorers, men like Sturt, Hume, and Mitchell and even the log of the doomed Burke & Wills. He looked at what they described and sketched from their many first hand observations of native people and he concluded that the history books have mostly ‘got it wrong’.

Pascoe recounts many examples where Australian Aboriginal people were practicing what we would today call agriculture. They were, in most cases were not the ‘nomadic hunter/gatherers’ of our school texts, but were living sedentary lives, building houses, planting, harvesting and storing grain and constructing intricate and permanent fish traps and water channels.

A Project being developed this year at The Living Classroom (TLC) in Bingara is called ‘NOURISH’ – The Bush Tucker Garden. It is a joint project between, Gwydir Shire Council, Northern Slopes Landcare Association, Bingara Central School, Bingara Preschool and Bingara & District VISION 2020 building on research and design work done by students from the Queensland University of Technology. It aims to showcase the indigenous diet of our local area and also create some examples of Bush Tucker from other parts of Australia.

On Sunday June 5 a working bee will be held at TLC site to tidy up the Food Forest (FF) that was first planted in July last year. Many of the plants in the FF are examples of Bush Tucker. Most of them are from more lush, sub-tropical areas, and have required some extra attention in their first years to see them past their susceptibility to frost and the local animal intruders.

Once established the Food Forest will become ‘self-protecting’ with the canopies of the established trees providing shelter for their off-spring and to added FF plants. The ‘Forest Pod’ will be one of six PODS to be developed on TLC site.

The other PODS are The Grassland Pod, The Woodland Pod, The Stream Pod, The Swamp Pod and the Dryland Pod. Each will have ‘guilds’ of Bush tucker plants, providing a rich variety of foods across the 4.3 hectare Bush Tucker Garden.

If you are curious about this Project, and you wish to lend a hand to help it become established, please join us on Sunday June 5 between 10 am and 2 pm. Bring your hat, work clothes and gloves, and perhaps your favourite garden tool like a hoe, rake, fork or secateurs.

We will provide water, sunscreen and all of the other items required.

The kids are welcome too and you and your family will be able to say that you were there at the start of The Bush Tucker Garden at The Living Classroom.

For more information please feel free to contact Rick Hutton on 0428 255380 or Garry McDouall on 0428 834 281.