Bushfood in the heart of the city

21-year-old Hayden Marks is passionate about native Australian bushfoods. 

His business Melbourne Bushfood has recently arrived in the organics section at Queen Victoria Market (QVM), adding to the market’s already diverse range of fresh foods. 

While much of what Hayden offers will be familiar to most of us, bushfoods are generally not found in most Australian pantries. Despite there being around 6500 bushfoods in Australia, the only one which is commonly eaten is the macadamia. 

It’s the mission of Melbourne Bushfood to change that and, in doing so, support and raise awareness of sustainable permaculture farming practices that have been adopted by our First Nations peoples for thousands of years. 

“The reason I do this is because it’s a lot more sustainable,” Hayden told CBD News. 

“I see what’s happening in farming and 99 per cent of New South Wales is covered in drought yet we’re planting watermelon, tomatoes and cotton along the Murray River, which are very water heavy crops. So, of course there are going to be droughts.”

“With bushfoods you don’t need heavy irrigation so it’s a lot better for you and the environment. There are a lot of people in agriculture doing a lot of great things but the majority of the system we have is unsustainable.”

Take two staples found in everyone’s pantries, for example … salt and pepper. 

As Hayden explained, much of what we buy off the shelf is unsustainably farmed, imported from overseas and covered in things like micro toxins. Instead, Melbourne Bushfood offers healthy and sustainable alternatives in saltbush and pepperberry! 

As well as offering a range of herbs and spices, why not try one of its many tea blends using ingredients like lemon myrtle, fresh seasonal produce like finger limes or one of its delicious chocolates incorporating bushfoods such as strawberry gum and wattleseed.

With many of his ingredients sourced from Gippsland, Hayden said he was keen to use his new position at Queen Victoria Market to educate the public on the benefits of bushfoods and make them more accessible.  

“For me it was about the botanicals and making them more accessible. No one is going to buy it at $20 a packet so that’s the main reason I got into it. I wanted to try and make it more mainstream,” he said.

“I’ve learned so much. I’ve met so many farmers and engaged a lot with the Wurundjeri council but there’s so much more to learn – there are 6500 species and there are hundreds of varieties of each one. There is so much growing everywhere and people just don’t know about it.”

“I’ve been at the market [QVM] for three months so not long, but it’s been really fun getting to talk to people. I’m trying to get fresh produce to sell as well but that all takes time as everything is seasonal.”

“Being in the organic section is great and everyone has been really helpful and lovely. The market is very Melbourne!”

Melbourne Bushfood can be found at QVM on weekends and selected weekdays throughout the year under I Shed.

For more information: 

melbournebushfood.com.au or follow @melbournebushfood on Instagram.

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