First People of the Millewa-Mallee Aboriginal Corporation (FPMMAC) and Food Next Door Co-op (FND) are exploring how to bring together their respective knowledge bases to build a healthy and thriving native foods economy in our region. The two organisations have developed a relationship through their aligned values and community work in the Mildura and Millewa-Mallee region. They are eager to explore how they can work together to address co-evolving goals related to Indigenous food sovereignty, a strong local food system and advancing regenerative farming in the Millewa-Mallee.
FPMMAC through its Food-Fibre-Medicine program has secured access to land to begin farming native plants and foods, established a large native seed bank and trained their Indigenous Cultural Rangers in seed collection and plant use.
FND through its Building community and sustainable local economies through food program has supported the regeneration of unused land by supporting new migrant farmers to grow food including traditional crops.
Caring for Country in a changing climate is an ADAPT Loddon Mallee micro-funding program supported by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). In January 2021, FPMMAC and FND collaborated on an application to the fund for the development of Planting the Seed, a business case for a collaborative regenerative farming and plant use project in the Millewa-Mallee region. The preparation of this resulting report was facilitated by local community development service Regenerative Communities, using the regenerative practice approach of place-based solutions.
During 2021 research was conducted by Regenerative Communities in partnership with FPMMAC and FND including a series of farm exchange events, consultation with local consumers and conversations with relevant local and national organisations. Desktop research combined with a strong knowledge of place held by all involved included a history of farming in the Millewa-Mallee, regenerative farming, cultural & intellectual property, and potential native foods to be farmed in the Millewa-Mallee.
If we work with what is unique about the people and place of the Millewa-Mallee, there is an abundance of inspiration and potential to manifest into new farms that regenerate land, new business enterprises with a community impact, and new products and ingredients that share the story of our region.
By respecting cultural & intellectual property we can create an Indigenous-led native foods industry in the Mallee to deliver social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits to the First Peoples of the Millewa-Mallee.
For the Millewa-Mallee to move forward and continue to be known as a place which nourishes the Australian and international community of eaters, we must acknowledge and elevate First Peoples knowledge and culture. Embracing regenerative farming practices and principles in the Millewa-Mallee presents us with the potential to demonstrate how the agriculture industry can lead the country in climate adaptation.
For this to happen, First People of the Millewa-Mallee and Food Next Door require continued support to create the conditions in our community for this success.