Gidgegannup Small Farm Field Day: Learn how to grow your own bush tucker

Olivia FordCountryman
Sharon Della and Mark Tucek at the 2022 Gidgegannup Small Farm Field Day.
Camera IconSharon Della and Mark Tucek at the 2022 Gidgegannup Small Farm Field Day. Credit: Cally Dupe/Countryman

Whether you’re a budding edible gardener or a professional green-thumb, this year’s Gidgegannup Small Farm Field Day has something for you with an informative talk on how to grow your own bush tucker.

Mark Tucek, the founder of Tucker Bush, will present the talk Designing A Backyard Bushfood Micro-Forest at the the Ian Stannard Pavilion for people of all ages to come and see.

Mr Tucek, a certified horticulturist and nursery professional, founded Tucker Bush in 2015 when he realised there was a lack of native Australian bush food plants available in nurseries.

“(Back then) . . . if you went into your local garden centre, you could hardly find bush food plants, and if you could, they’d probably be scattered all over the garden centre,” he said.

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Inspired to take matters into his own hands, Mr Tucek went on a bush food journey, meeting and consulting with different people like Noongar entrepreneur Marissa Verma, and Wardandi Bibbulmun woman Dale Tilbrook.

Warrigal Greens from Tucker Bush.
Camera IconWarrigal Greens from Tucker Bush. Credit: Supplied;Tucker Bush

Since then, Mr Tucek has made it his mission to make native plants more accessible and known to all Australians who grow their own food.

“I made it my big audacious idea to put a bush food plant into everyone’s backyard,” he said.

“Because everyone’s got a lemon tree in their backyard, but they should have a finger lime. Everyone knows what a blueberry is, but nobody knows what a midyim berry or what muntries are.”

Nine years on from its inception, Tucker Bush products can be found across Australia in retail outlets such as Bunnings and Coles.

Tucker Bush, with help from local Indigenous people, also runs school programs to teach students how to grow edible bush food — something Mr Tucek said had been hugely popular.

Mr Tucek said the talks he were not just about showing people how to grow bush tucker, but about reshaping the mainstream understanding of edible gardening.

“In fact, we have to unlearn people because most people are familiar with growing fruit trees in an orchard setting, or they grow their veggies in raised veggie planters or in a veggie garden,” he said.

“The sad fact is all the fruit, all the veggies, and all the herbs we currently eat today didn’t originate in Australia, so those kind of systems aren’t really suited for growing bush food plants.

“You can have a bush food garden that’s quite productive in a more natural setting.”

Midyim berries from Tucker Bush.
Camera IconMidyim berries from Tucker Bush. Credit: Supplied/Domus Nursery

Mr Tucek said his talk at Gidgegannup would cover important parts of making your own bush food micro-forest, including selection and how to layer a micro-forest from the canopy all the way down to the forest floor with ground-covering plants.

His talk will also cover soil preparation and what potting mix suits certain native plants best.

Mr Tucek said contrary to popular belief, not all native plants could survive in low-moisture areas, and it was important for people to know the best ways to look after different plants species which could be found all across the continent.

“A lot of people think because they’re native plants you don’t need to water them or anything like that, but the Tucker Bush range is Australia-wide, so we’ve got plants from far North Queensland to Tasmania to the South West of WA,” he said.

“So, there’s different plants that suit different environments, and they need their own little micro-climate accordingly.”

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