About

The Outback Pride Project is promoting the Australian native food industry by developing a network of production sites within traditional Aboriginal communities.

The cultivation of Australian native food provides indigenous Australians with jobs and training in horticulture and the food industry. In this way, the project also acknowledges the intellectual property of the traditional uses of bush foods.

History

Mike and Gayle QuarmbyThe Outback Pride Project was created by Mike and Gayle Quarmby of Reedy Creek, South Australia. It was born from a need to take a positive journey following the tragic loss of a 20 year old son. They wanted to make a difference in the lives of other young people, and felt that the most at need were the indigenous youth on remote communities.

Gayle's family involvement with traditional communities goes back to 1932, when her father Rex Battarbee travelled in a model T Ford to the central Australian outback settlement of Hermannsburg, south west of Alice Springs. He was a watercolour artist in search of the great outback landscape. Rex was moved by the plight of indigenous Australians, who at that time struggled with cultural change, and had very few prospects for employment and healthy lifestyle.

Rex Battarbee and Albert (Camel Boy)While at Hermannsburg Rex met a young camel team worker called Albert. They developed a strong friendship, which resulted in Rex training Albert as a landscape artist. With Rex's mentorship, Albert Namatjira and kin became known around the world as the Hermannsburg Watercolour movement. From those beginnings, the current aboriginal art industry was created and has provided valuable careers for many remote indigenous artists.

Gayle Gathering BushfoodGayle grew up with the Eastern Arrente people of the Hermannsburg and Alice Springs area, and fondly remembers gathering bush food with the women and children. This cultural connection has been a vital link in the Outback Pride project development.

Mike Quarmby has had a lifetime of experience in the commercial horticultural industry. During that time he was particularly involved in the development of arid zone horticultural practices. Mike's talent for innovation in species development, plant propagation, cultivation and new product development has been an integral part of this project.

Mike and Gayle felt that their combined skills could provide a platform for a unique development in the bush food industry. The focus of the project is their vision of "Jobs and Training for Indigenous Australians". They saw that the bush food industry should be operated as a parallel to the aboriginal art industry. Both these industries have a unique cultural and commercial ownership by Indigenous Australians.

The Journey

ResearchThe journey, beginning in 2001, has taken Mike and Gayle on a complex and interesting path. Initially they spent time in the outback with aboriginal people researching the bush food species. While mapping the best types relative to their commercial potential, invaluable support was received from their good friend and botanist Peter Latz.

The next step was to create the systems of propagation and cultivation for up to 64 bush food species. This process continues to be ongoing and consumes a large amount of Mike's time. The systems developed at this time were then put into practice on numerous trial sites in across South Australia and Northern Territory.

Reedy Creek

Reedy Creek Nursery, in South Australia's South East, is a wholesale nursery owned by Mike and Gayle. Reedy Creek provides the commercial base for research and development of all facets of the Outback Pride project.

Partnerships and Support

BuildingThey decided initially to self fund the project and have given five years of their time at no cost to indigenous communities. After many years of mentoring, developing and supplying the plants, and helping the communities set up the growing systems, Mike and Gayle have been joined by various government departments, including ILC, DEWR, Works SA, Dept. of the Premier & Cabinet SA, Regional TAFE SA and Nganampa Health Council, who have also provided valuable support to the communities involved.

A big part of the Quarmby's vision was to incorporate accredited training for participants in the project. Groups of participants have been brought from communities to Reedy Creek Nursery to be able to access real industry work experience. A partnership between Reedy Creek Nursery and Regional TAFE SA supports this skill development process.

The Outback Cafe

Outcomes

In order to guarantee an outcome for the participating indigenous communities, a co-op like value adding arm was developed. Combining the knowledge of traditional uses of the bushfoods with western food practices, the end use products are available under the brand name "Outback Pride".

The group of aboriginal communities that form the Outback Pride network represent the largest bushfood growing organization in Australia.