All our harvesters are local Aboriginal people from the Maningrida region. Maningrida Wild Foods purchases foods directly from harvesters, and most of the price paid by the customer goes directly to them.
Most of our harvesters live on their homelands, small communities located on traditional clan estates around Maningrida. Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation was founded to support people on homelands.
For our biggest harvests, such as Man-morlak Kakadu plums or Djarduk Apples, we purchase from about 150 different harvesters. Wild Harvesters pick the produce on their own countries in their own time, and bring them to us to sell in Maningrida community. Maningrida Wild Foods checks the quality of the produce, purchases the produce paying fair prices per kilo, then organises storage and dispatch of the produce to customers.
We rely on our Elders’ wisdom to guide our gathering practices. They pass on the knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation, for many thousands of years. Our Elders show us where and when to harvest. They teach us how to identify each plant and know when it’s ready. It’s important for us to understand and respect the interconnectedness of our local ecosystems; different birds, plants, fish and weather patterns give us clues as to what bush food is ready and where.
When we harvest, we know that it’s all connected. When we see something flowering, it means the fish are ready, when the spear grass is coming up, we know the stingray are coming; we know because our parents, they taught us.
We know that our traditional practices are sustainable because they’ve been used by our people on these lands for so long without negatively impacting our environment. These principles of sustainability are captured within the rules that govern our harvesting, and they reflect our requirements under the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife permit:
- no more than 80% of the fruit on a given tree is harvested (experience demonstrates that with the hand harvesting methods used harvesters very rarely collect over 50%)
- we gather from multiple locations to minimise impact
- we ensure there is minimal damage to foliage, branches and surrounding plants and habitats.
Following these key rules means there will be plentiful fruit to harvest in the following season, as well as in the years to come for our future generations.