A Kutjera Story

Kutjera, for desert people, is by far the most important 'old'‘ food, providing the much needed energy for life in the centre of Australia. When Gayle was young, the artists and their families smelt of Kutjera and this strong musky aroma speaks of dazzling hot sunlight and a willy willy (mini tornado) flinging the dust into the air.

Gayle and many friends enjoy to eat the fruit fresh from the small shrub. The strong spice overtones remain on their fingers for hours because the fruit drips with sweet nectar from the purple flowers. Aboriginal people will fill their bellies with the berries fresh from the plant but always try and store some of the brown, sun dried fruits for later.

Before cars and camels reached Australian deserts, people had to be prepared to walk huge distances, and the carbohydrate store and nutrients in Kutjera would allow a fit person to walk for three days with a handful of the fruit - and some water - without having to stop to hunt. Secret stashes of dried Kutjera were kept for years, to be ready for an emergency long distance journey.

In the wild, the natural stands of Kutjera (Bush Tomato) are dwindling, due to overgrazing, lack of germination trigger events and drought conditions. The commercial cultivation plots established on remote communities linked to the Outback Pride Fresh network use systems developed by Mike to provide cropping for eight months of the year. The only truly sustainable way to build an industry and be able to give benefit back to community.

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Mike and Gayle Quarmby

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