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Wurrumuk/Djurrung/Dhurra - Wirral/Burukil 2024 Update

We're pleased to share a little update of the progress at Murnong Mummas for the beginning on 2024. We've been busy on a number of fronts, focusing on soil health, cultural connection, plant diversity, and community engagement. We’ve been making use of foraged goods and getting excited about tasting some of the new things coming up in the Bushfoods plot. 

We’ve also been working on updating and expanding infrastructure in the garden like our irrigation and fencing. With hungry chooks and an excited Jedda nearby, it’s become a little more pressing to add a barrier between pecking beaks and newly planted groundcover. Jedda isn’t as destructive, her morning greetings and mulch spreading has become an important part of our workday.

We’ve also been going ham on the propagating and germinating front - germinating seeds from various fruits like Kangaroo Apple, Muntries, Ruby Saltbush, veggies like Murnong, herbs like Old Man Saltbush and Native Lemongrass, weaving plants like Lomandra and Flax Lily, flowers to attract birds and insects like Native Broom and various Everlasting Paper Daisy varieties and even plants to grow seeds to flour - Kangaroo Grass and Bunya Trees. We’ve also been working hard to propagate 60 hardwood cuttings of Grevillea and Thryptamine - hoping to beef up our pollinator game after slowly reducing the number of non-indigenous plants still hanging around in the plot. As you can see, we have a lot on the go! 

Nourishing the Ground

At the beginning of the year we received a valuable delivery of one tonne of organic hay mulch from John. This generous contribution has already made a significant impact on our plots. The mulch layer effectively retains moisture, suppresses weeds, and helps regulate soil temperature. Keeping the moisture in and the sun off the roots was integral to keeping our plants health in the hotter days of summer and as the cool change comes through it will act like a big warm doona keeping the roots nice and toasty. This application builds upon our previous mulching efforts in 2020 and 2023, further enhancing our soil health and fostering a thriving plant ecosystem. Healthy soil is the foundation of a productive garden, and we're committed to nurturing this valuable resource.

Celebrating Women's Wisdom and Indigenous Knowledge

Around International Women’s Day we spent time harvesting and fermenting Meeakitch seeds, they serve as a powerful reminder of the plant's deep cultural significance, particularly for women. As we process the seeds, we honor the generations of women who have stewarded this knowledge and the matriarchal spirit that continues to guide us. We're proud to carry forward this important knowledge and integrate them into our sustainable food practices. Planting seeds for the future, we celebrate the enduring strength and resilience of women who have shaped our foodways and passed on the important knowledge of nurture for thousands of generations unbroken.

Expanding Our Plant Palette

Our Bushfoods Garden is flourishing with a variety of delicious and culturally significant plants. This month, we've been particularly excited about the Midyim Berry. This visually striking berry boasts vibrant colors of magenta, fuchsia, and eggshell, resembling little speckled bird eggs. Beyond its captivating appearance, the Midyim Berry offers a textural profile comparable to blueberries, while packing a higher concentration of antioxidants and essential vitamins like C, E, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. We look forward to getting to know this important food and building our relationship with it further.

Bunya Bounty and Educational Opportunities

The arrival of the bi/tri-annual Bunya season brought a bounty of fallen cones. We were fortunate to collect these giants ourselves and receive generous contributions from lovely members of our HOFC community. These impressive cones yielded a significant amount of nuts, which we've using to create culinary delights such as Warrigal Greens and Bunya pesto and a decadent Bunya Nut praline. Additionally, we’ve reserved some unopened cones to share and process with local mob for educational purposes. These cones will be used in workshops and demonstrations, fostering a deeper understanding of this magnificent tree, its fascinating germination process, and the cultural significance of its fruit and the trees as a meeting place to share abundance with neighbouring mob.

Bunya Nut Flour and Culinary Innovation

Taking advantage of leftover Bunya nuts, we also recently created a flavorful Bunya Nut Flour. This unique flour adds a distinctive touch when used in combination with other flours for baking applications. In the spirit of culinary exploration, we also experimented with a delightful recipe for Muntrie and Bunya Nut cupcakes, utilizing overripe Muntries from Ni-Ni Well and a touch of Green Ant Gin from Seven Seasons Spirits! This sweet treat offered a surprising and delicious combination of textures and flavours. We're excited to continue developing new recipes that showcase the unique ingredients we are lucky enough to play around with! Familiarising ourselves with native flavours instead of endlessly comparing them to foreign counterparts is an important part of our journey here at Murnong Mummas, innovating language to describe the experience of indigenous flavours so the conversation around our food can continue to grow.

Kangaroo Grass Germination Experiment: Honoring Traditional Knowledge

We're currently exploring a new (to us) approach to germinating Kangaroo Grass seeds. Inspired by a wander down to the Picnic Gully paddock and some insights shared by Tess from Sellar Dairy, we're investigating the use of smoke treatment on the soil to stimulate seed growth. This method reflects traditional Indigenous burning practices that have been used for millennia to manage the landscape and encourage plant growth and the germination of dormant seeds. With a little engineering inspiration from Millie of Gardening Australia, Grace and Ira got a good fire going on a frosty morning and treated a few seedling trays worth of soil and warmed their hands. We'll be sure to keep you updated on the progress of this experiment and share the results!

Trans Day of Visibility

In recognition of Trans Day of Visibility, Ira Barker, a non-binary/genderqueer cook, gardener, and mentor on the Murnong Mummas team, wanted to take a moment to acknowledge its importance. Trans Day of Visibility is a day to celebrate the lives of transgender people and raise awareness about the discrimination we face. It's a day to see ourselves reflected in the world around us, letting everyone know they're not alone and that they belong. Building a world where all identities are embraced and celebrated is an ongoing mission at Murnong Mummas. Ira writes:

“My name is Ira Barker. Here I am, grinning up a tree with a digging stick in hand.

I’m a non-binary/genderqueer cook, gardener, mentor, happy to be part of the Murnong Mummas team and the person behind our social media and online presence.

There was a long time when I felt a bit invisible, like I didn’t quite fit in. But our community, with its rich traditions and deep connection to the land, holds a special place for all its members. Being embraced for who I truly am – that’s what helped me grow.

That’s why visibility matters so much. When we see ourselves reflected in the world around us, it’s like being able to picture a future with ourselves in it, a path to travel that doesn’t just lead to despair. It lets everyone know they’re not alone, that they belong, and that they can be who they truly are.

As someone who loves cooking, gardening, and educating others, I’m all about creating spaces where everyone feels celebrated and has a seat at the table. 

I’ve experienced my fair share of harassment and discrimination, and I do my best to stand up for myself and set a precedent for young queer mob that will come after me. This isn’t an easy feat, and it’s incredibly exhausting, but I don’t want anybody to experience the things that I have and feel as though they don’t have the support and warmth around them to get through it and remember who they are. 

Together, we need to build a world where all identities are embraced and celebrated, just like I was by the mob around me. 

Thank you to everyone that has supported and recognised me for who I am along the way - I wouldn’t be who I am today without you.”

Food Sovereignty for Our Community: A Collaborative Effort

We're actively engaged in ongoing discussions with members of our community regarding the achievement of food sovereignty. This is a collaborative effort, and we're dedicated to sharing knowledge and resources to empower everyone to cultivate their own food sources. Workshops, get together, knowledge sharing and seed swap projects are all part of our strategy to build a more resilient and self-sufficient food system where First Nations Food Sovereignty is thriving.

Looking Forward: Building a Food Secure Future

As we look towards the future, we're brimming with excitement! We're currently in the process of planning a range of workshops and tour updates that will delve deeper into our sustainable gardening practices, share valuable Indigenous knowledge with others, and introduce participants to the unique world of First Nations foods.

Wurrumuk/Djurrung/Dhurra - Wirral/Burukil are Dja Dja Wurrung for seasons on this Country. This information has been taken from a Djaara Seasonal Calendar compiled by Uncle Rick Nelson and Karl Just, with contributions from Frances Cincotta, Elaine Bayes, Damien Cook, Tanya Loos, Geoff Park, Cassia Read and Trace Balla. 

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