After weeks of treatment I was left with very limited eyesight in my right eye, had to give up my position as a psychiatric psychologist and get healthy. This is where Paul and my life-story changed and the Noosa Natives dream came alive. We moved to Paul's farm in the Noosa Hinterland so that I could recuperate. Paul’s 'farm' at the time comprised of three rescue cows, a horse that had been abandoned, a rescue cat that Paul saved from a flooded river; as well as chickens and a gentle giant dog.
We decided it was time to create our organic farm. Paul gave up his job as a nurse and began to transform the fertile land into paddocks and garden beds using organic and intuitive farming processes that are also common permaculture practises. Swales were made & sustainable gravity-fed tank water systems were developed utilising hilled paddocks. Chickens, wild geese and native wildlife were allowed to forage across paddocks. Solar panels were installed on the main house.
An ergonomist was consulted who encouraged us to grow native foods as the climate and soil quality was ideal for native fruit trees. The farm was already growing Bunya trees & Macadamia trees amongst native grevillea and melaleucas. Our respect for Indigenous wisdom and history grew while we were working directly with Arrernte, Awabakal, Biripi and Dainggatti people.
We researched the market for native foods and got quite mixed responses. Local and country-wide providores stated that the industry was stagnant. Government research bodies outlined the difficulties to commercialise native foods due to unestablished production systems and unestablished markets. Government reports suggested further development of markets were required to achieve commercial sustainability. It was also hard to hear that Indigenous representation in the supply chain was less than 1%.
However, we had an intuitive understanding that interest in native food was growing, supported by the beliefs of a local horticulturist who had more than 30 years experience growing native food plants and also by the appearance of native foods in more and more restaurants.
Discussions with Indigenous native food suppliers developed ideas of collaboration to boost the native food sector for all Australians to benefit – especially first nation people. Our inspiration was to get native foods in the Australian diet again.
Five species were initially selected for their taste, texture or uniqueness. Midyim Berries, Lemon Aspen, Sandpaper Fig, Finger Lime, and Davidson plum. They are compatible with the South-east Queensland climate and have wonderful nutritional values. Paul and Nicole are currently planting more Lemon Aspen and Midyim Berry. Lemon Aspen have a sharp tropical lemon- grapefruit flavour that bursts with flavour & antioxidants. Midyim Berries have an aerated crisp texture with blueberry, spice and eucalypt flavours – they are currently testing these for their antioxidant and vitamin C properties as research is limited on these.
Paul and Nicole express much gratitude for the land and the critters that dwell with them.