Enrichment plantings as a means of enhanced bush food and bush medicine plant production in remote arid regions – a review and status report
Lee, LS & Courtenay, K 2016, ‘Enrichment plantings as a means of enhanced bush food and bush medicine plant production in remote arid regions – a review and status report’, Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts, Special Issue: Synthesis & Integration, no. 19, pp. 64-75.
Attempts to establish horticultural businesses in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have seldom experienced sustained success. Various reasons have been proposed – inadequate technical and business expertise, insufficient planning and consultation, limited local demand for products and long distances to external markets, harsh seasonal conditions adverse to farming, limited irrigation water availability, competing community interests, and the laborious nature of the work under arduous conditions. This paper proposes a further reason and explores a new approach as an alternative to horticulture. Enrichment planting is a strategy involving the establishment of plants for food, medicine or other uses, in a landscape that is otherwise natural and largely undisturbed. The establishment of enrichment plantings of bush food and medicinal plants in bushland settings complements wild harvest, and yet as an alternative to the agricultural farming approach, it accommodates the important social and cultural interactions of value to Aboriginal people in collecting bush food and traditional medicines, while also generating a source of income. Through a review of the limited published information available and documentation of the current status in Australia, the use of enrichment planting is examined in the global context and its application to bush food and traditional medicine production for remote Aboriginal communities is explored.