Have you ever wondered how an ecologically focused Indigenous business works? While half of Australia is hustling for livelihoods in the cities, in regional Australia, Indigenous micro-businesses are stepping up in culturally appropriate livelihoods that nurture local Aboriginal peoples on their traditional lands. And the regeneration of Indigenous land care, foraging and harvesting is literally changing the way we see food.
Mayi Harvests was established in 2006 as an Indigenous cooperative, to supply wild-harvested Kakadu Plum 'Gabiny' and other native fruits and seeds. 'Mayi' is a word from the Djugun/ Yawuru language group of the West Kimberley that means, 'plant foods derived from parts of plants, including seeds, fruits, nuts, breads, cakes.'
Pat Mamanyjun Torres, the CEO of Mayi Harvests is also a well known local cook. She has family connections to Djugun, Yawuru, Nyul Nyul, Bard, Jabirr Jabirr and Ngumbarl peoples in an around the Broome Region and her extended family is always involved in the business.
The aim of Mayi Harvests is to provide seasonal employment and business opportunities for local Aboriginal people to harvest their own lands, increase their community wellbeing and to maintain their cultural traditions. Torres says:
“PEOPLE LIVING ON THEIR OWN LAND CREATES SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS. WE COLLECT CAREFULLY, YOU CAN GET THREE PICKINGS FROM THE TREES THAT WAY. BIRDS, ANIMALS AND INSECTS ARE ALSO LIVING OFF THE FRUIT. YOU’VE GOT TO LEAVE SOME FRUIT FOR THE ANIMALS AND THE INSECTS WHO LIVE ON THE FRUIT OF PLANTS."
Mayi Harvest follows the traditional methods of wild harvesting throughout the six seasons found in the Kimberley of Western Australia, ensuring ensure a sustainable future for community and business.
Responsible fruit picking nurtures more than the fruit. The company also nurtures family, family languages and cultural traditions, pride, self esteem and confidence. It’s Aboriginal business values done in the Aboriginal way combined with whitefella business skills, Torres says.
“PICKING IS HEALTHY, IT SUPPORTS OUR WELLBEING AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH IS AT HIGHER LEVEL THAN JUST STAYING IN OUR TOWNS OR CITIES WHILE CARING FOR OUR FAMILIES. IT MAINTAINS OUR KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS AND THAT’S SUSTAINABLE FOR OUR IDENTITY, HEALTH, EMOTIONAL STATUS AND CULTURAL PRACTICES.”
Mayi Harvests provides an easy access into the world of Australia's native super foods straight to your front door, providing quality Australian native produce freshly frozen and dried native foods and we supply our products all over Australia.
Australian Native fruits are delicious and unique, packed full of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Australian Native produce has been branded as a SUPERFOOD and is becoming increasingly common with beauty companies, health food business and many modern restaurants and have found favour with chefs of all levels.
Mayi Harvests team is committed to maintaining and enriching our lands and people through partnerships with dedicated people and informed industry partners that empower and engage Indigenous Australians in meaningful projects that have direct benefit to our family’s future development in spirit of reconciliation within a framework of social and economic justice.
"WE ARE COMMITTED TO ENSURING INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS PARTICIPATE THROUGH EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING IN A BRIGHTER FUTURE WITHIN A SUSTAINABLE NATIVE FOOD INDUSTRY, WE CONTINUE TO PRESERVE OUR TRADITIONS THROUGH THE PRACTICE OF WILD HARVESTING AND TRADITIONAL LAND MANAGEMENT PRACTICES INFORMED BY KIMBERLEY INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS HANDED DOWN THROUGH THE GENERATIONS."
Next time you are hustling your way to work on a train or distancing from some passing cougher in Pitt Street, think about what you are missing out on.
Images: Mayi Harvest Native Foods