Interview with Melbourne Bushfood Founder Hayden Marks
In all that we do at Archie Rose Distilling Co., we seek to acknowledge and pay our respects to First Nations peoples as the Traditional Owners and ongoing custodians of the land.
We acknowledge the Gadigal and Bidjigal people of the Eora Nation as the Traditional Custodians of the Country where the Archie Rose Bar & Cellar Door in Rosebery, Sydney and the Archie Rose Distillery in Banksmeadow, Sydney reside.
As we celebrate shared histories, cultures, and achievements of First Nations communities, we wanted to place the spotlight on our latest partnership with Melbourne Bushfood, a native plants grower created with a social mission to bring native ingredients to the front of the Australian pantry and platform First Nations growers in the native food industry.
A business enterprise that gives back social benefits to the producers they work with, Archie Rose is thrilled to be partnering with Melbourne Bushfood and feature native ingredients as the hero botanicals in our exciting new preset for our Tailored Gin.
We recently had a chat with Melbourne Bushfood Founder, Hayden Marks about how native foods can revolutionise agriculture and bring economic opportunities to First Nations communities and our upcoming Tailored collaboration.
Where Did The Idea For Melbourne Bushfood Come From?
I wanted to utilise the plants that belong here and I wanted to make them more accessible to the masses. It is crazy that in Australia, we have over 6,500 native foods but strangely the only one that can be found in a supermarket is the macadamia nut, which most people don’t even realise is a native food!
Prior to starting Melbourne Bushfood, I had never realised that there were so many native foods and how hard they are to access. I think it is such a shame that we don’t use them as pantry staples as they have literally evolved to suit the Australian landscape. They don’t require much water and there is no chemical input from pesticides and fertilisers, unlike most other day-to-day foods we eat regularly.
Critically, I don’t want native foods to become a novelty, I want them to become a staple in everyone’s pantry and it’s through organisations such as Archie Rose that we can continue to promote such fantastic native ingredients.
Why Native Ingredients?
Australia's native plants have fed humans for thousands of years. They provide a rich bounty where alien grains and orchards die. Their nutritional content is far superior to modern foods and offers an exceptional culinary experience. It’s a win-win for all!
Learning first-hand from Aboriginal Communities and hearing their stories, we realized there was a big problem in the native food industry. Low-quality, corporate food manufacturers were preying on consumers by offering a bushfood flavoured product that contained 0.01% of native ingredients.
So that is when we decided to work exclusively with communities instead and found a vast network of Aboriginal growers, wild harvesters, and small farmers who had a passion and love for native ingredients. They share the same respect, kindness to country, and passion that we do.
What Is The Mission Of Melbourne Bushfoods?
I genuinely really care about what we are trying to achieve. Having a mission where we can try to raise awareness around native foods and ensure that the primary benefit goes back to First Nations growers and communities is something that we have tied directly into our business and every decision we make.
We are on a social crusade to put Aussie natives in bellies across the world whilst supporting the small farmers, on-for-profits, and Indigenous Communities who supply us.
So far, we’ve injected 80,000 into First Nations Communities, donated $28,612.00 to support biodiversity projects, and created a fund worth $12,300.00 to support Aboriginal growers.
What Is The Value Of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge?
No matter how hard you try to separate the two, native ingredients are intertwined with Aboriginal culture. Indigenous Ecological Knowledge is the Traditional Knowledge of the landscape's plants and systems that have existed for thousands of years.
At Melbourne Bushfood we believe that all businesses engaged in the native food industry must engage in monetary and non-monetary benefit-sharing with Aboriginal growers or suppliers in exchange for this. It just makes sense that we provide economic opportunities to First Nations growers as native foods are so intertwined with their culture.
We wanted to make this exchange equal and give back to our growers as we are benefitting from generations of knowledge which is their intellectual property. As we continue to grow we hope to continue engaging in benefit-sharing opportunities to ensure that the wealth trickles down directly into the hands of Australia’s Traditional Custodians and regional remote communities, helping to build the economies of communities who are engaged with us.
What Is The Blend of this Latest Archie Rose Tailored Preset?
We have provided Strawberry Gum, Lemon Myrtle, and Rivermint to Archie Rose to be used in an upcoming Tailored Blend. Whilst there is limited knowledge of traditional Indigenous usage of Strawberry Gum, Lemon Myrtle and Rivermint have both been used as traditional medicine as they have anti-bacterial qualities.
These ingredients were not sourced from a First Nations grower, however whenever we do source from First Nations growers we always make sure the traditional owners have control over where the products end up and are used.