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Producer Profile - Namabundah Farm

Recently we received some pumpkins from a farm some very cool gents have been working on. We look forward to continuing and growing our relationship with this inspiring project. Here is little information about their work...

The Bundjalung Successional Agroforestry Project was initiated by Tracey and Phil from the Bundjalung Tribal Society and initially driven onsite by Phil, Paul Williamson, Evan Anderson and Bunya Halasz. The Vision is to transform an overgrown orchard of Lychee – now 30 years established – into a mixed, multi strata orchard of well-shaped, productive lychee trees inter-planted with a huge range of food and timber crops with a strong emphasis on the local bush tukka plants of the Bundjalung region. There is more than 40 acres of overgrown orchard – so there is much scope for continued development.

The Project began with some long hot days of chainsawing and chipping in December 2017 – such a joy to work with 30 years of biomass onsite! Over 20-30 days of planting and maintenance in the coming 2.5yrs with the Bundjalung Community - including the young Indigenous Rangers from Nimbin Rocks - a successional forest is slowly developing without irrigation or any ongoing intensive inputs other than the continued management of onsite biomass.

We have now ridden through the coldest winter and most damaging frosts in 30 years and the driest summer on record with very few casualties and steady growth in the trees. In our first summer, pumpkins were the big yield! Followed by Garlic in the winter months and then summer of 2018/19, planted into deep woodchip, watered in by 2 small storms then only 3mm of rain in the ensuing 2 months of blazing summer heat, we were astounded to taste some of the plumpest juiciest water melons and sweet corn I have ever grown, along with beautiful sweet potatoes and native warrigal green spinach. The young trees protected by these vigorous annuals remained safely sheltered through the hot dry periods whilst those exposed on woodchip without their early successional companions were mostly fried.

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With continued plantings every 3-4 months, we have now developed an acre of land into an emerging Bush tukka food forest with food, medicine and cultural plants of Bundjalung country. Our methods are influenced by bush regeneration and agroforestry techniques with plantings guided by the availability of food, habitat and timber trees raised by the Nimbin Rocks Young Rangers in their nursery and training facility, enriched with a few bush tukka industry classics such as north Queensland Davidson plum and several grafted cultivars of finger lime. This summer has seen the first harvests from our bananas – an important plant in the protection of young rainforest trees in their early years of development. We have incorporated into our initial plantings organic soil ammendments including chicken manure, seaweed, lime, ash and volcanic crusher dust, but our primary input is fresh woodchip made from onsite biomass. As the planting evolves, we continue to feed the soil with a mulch of plant biomass from prunings of bananas, wattles and other pioneer trees that feed the soil ecology to drive the evolution of the bush tukka forest.

We relish every opportunity we have to reconnect with Phil, Tracey and the Bundjalung Tribal Society, learning more from the land and from Phil’s ongoing connection to its development – learning tips from his farming back in the day of sweet potatoes, water melons, bananas, lychees and more. The forum of learning together with the community about the local bush foods is one of the great experiences of my life - to be of service to country and local culture and be prepared to relearn everything I thought I knew.

We are looking forward to sharing more opportunities in the future for willing contributers to our days working onsite with the community and would love to welcome more innovations from the Northern Rivers Community as to how we can further support the Bundjalung Tribal Society and Namabundah Farm. Much gratitude to the ongoing work of the Nimbin Rocks Indigenous Rangers for their onsite yakka and especially to Flavia Assuncao for continued support onsite, behind the scenes and photographic documentation of the projects evolution.

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