First Nations Participation

Written by Joshua Staines, Wiradjuri man and Director at Black Duck Foods & Laguna Native Grains, and Board Member of Sustainable Table & Reconciliation NSW. He is also a Specialist First Nations Policy, Community Capacity and Industry Development Professional. Joshua has been advising on the design and development of Discover Regenerative.

In 2023, Open Food Network Australia recognised the imperative to reassess and expand their understanding of the Discover Regenerative Portal’s purpose and potential. Acknowledging the rich history of First Nations peoples in Australia, who, since time in memorial, have skilfully cultivated delectable, nutritious, and regenerative foods within their communities and landscapes, the project aimed to deliver a Portal that aligns with First Nations values and aspirations for food while fostering self-determination and food sovereignty.

Understanding the need to incorporate First Nations perspectives, Open Food Network embarked on a transformative journey. In a strategic move, they collaborated with Terri Janke and Company, renowned thought leaders in Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property, to conduct a comprehensive review of their existing approach, systems, and processes regarding data management. This partnership was a crucial step in ensuring the Discover Regenerative Portal is culturally sensitive and respectful of First Nations knowledge, practices and data sovereignty. This is reflected in the website’s Terms of Service.

Moreover, recognizing the importance of direct engagement, Open Food Network sought the insights of First Nations individuals involved in bush foods, business, community development and capacity building.

By actively involving these stakeholders, the project aims to gain a deeper understanding of how First Nations values, perspectives, and experiences could be authentically incorporated into the Discover Regenerative Portal. 

Uncle Phil and Uncle Noel Butler undertaking a smoking ceremony at Yumburra

The next steps are for the project team to engage with key organisations dedicated to supporting First Nation businesses and economic development. Engaging these organisations will enable Open Food Network to tap into a wealth of expertise and resources aligned with progressing the resurgence of First Nations food systems and entrepreneurship in the regenerative agriculture sector.

Discover Regenerative aims to be an inclusive Portal, contributing to the broader goals of food sovereignty and community empowerment, where First Nations enterprises can thrive. This collaborative effort reflects a commitment to inclusivity, recognising the profound contributions of First Nations peoples and aiming to amplify their role in shaping the future of the regenerative agriculture sector in Australia. Through these initiatives, the project team aspires to create a Portal that reflects the diversity of Australian food cultures and actively supports and promotes the principles of self-determination and food sovereignty for First Nations communities.

Yumburra Farm Manager Chris Harris
Laguna Native Grains sharing Warrigal Green delight!
Finger Lime Fun at Laguna Native Grains

Native Bush Foods: A Re-emerging Industry

The thriving resurgence of the native bush food industry in Australia has opened up unprecedented avenues for participation, inviting individuals from all walks of life to engage in various facets of this flourishing sector.

The re-emerging industry weaves together cultural, social, economic, and environmental benefits for First Nations communities.

What makes this resurgence remarkable is its inclusive nature, allowing people of diverse backgrounds to actively participate in different aspects of the native bush food industry. Whether it’s growing native ingredients in community gardens, teaching traditional cooking methods, or conducting research on sustainable harvesting practices, individuals from various backgrounds find meaningful roles within this vibrant ecosystem.

The native bush food industry brings holistic benefits, from fostering cultural preservation, social cohesion, economic empowerment to environmental sustainability. Beyond providing unique flavours to culinary landscapes, the industry serves as a catalyst for positive change across multiple societal dimensions.

Yumburra Farm Manager Chris Harris harvesting wattleseed
Laguna Native Grains with a batch of their Davidson Plums!

An essential aspect is the greater degree of social return on investment when supporting entities owned and operated by Traditional Owners. Purchasing from these sources not only facilitates economic transactions but also contributes to cultural revitalisation, employment opportunities, sustainable land management, and educational initiatives – this is truly regenerative. This contrasts with purchasing imported produce or from sole traders, where the social impact might not extend as far or wide, potentially resulting in a lower social return on investment for First Nations communities.

The Discover Regenerative Portal serves as a potential nexus for a rich tapestry of First Nations businesses and entities to be showcased. Among them are Traditional Owners with Native Title, leveraging the native bush food industry to develop revenue streams for land maintenance and activation. Concurrently, the Portal features First Nations entrepreneurs, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, and companies registered under the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations. This diversity highlights the multifaceted and inclusive nature of the industry, where a myriad of voices and perspectives converge to shape a regenerative, culturally rich future. By supporting these entities, buyers actively contribute to the broader reconciliation goals of cultural preservation, economic empowerment, and environmental stewardship.

Want to get involved?

First Nations Producers

Find out how to get showcased on Discover Regenerative.

First Nations-led Industry Body

Find out how your organisation can get involved.