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Native radish on the menu

Lisa MorrisonCountryman
Native radish on the menu
Camera IconNative radish on the menu Credit: Countryman

An Albany native plant scientist's research project into native vegetables is helping expand the burgeoning bush foods industry.

Geoff Woodall, a part-time research fellow at the University of WA's Centre for Excellence in Natural Resource Management, received $30,000 funding to develop a new industry based on a native radish, Platysace deflexa.

The funding was provided by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Great Southern Development Commission and South Coast NRM.

Dr Woodall planted trial plots of Platysace deflexa, more commonly known as Ravensthorpe radish or youlk, at the Bushfoods Factory and Cafe in Young's Siding 18 months ago.

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"Platysace deflexa is a wild relative of carrots that naturally occurs in the Ravensthorpe, Newdegate, Jerramungup region," Dr Woodall said.

"I have been working to domesticate this species and others to fit into the expanding native food industry in which the species occurs.

"We now have four small additional production areas in Ongerup, Young's Siding, Cuballing and Pingelly."

Bushfoods Factory and café co-owner Bjorn Form said he had been experimenting with the radish, which he said had a flavour like a cross between a carrot and a radish, as well as another species similar to the sweet potato, kulyu, in salads and preserves.

"Bush foods are no longer something people think of as a survival tool if they are lost in the bush," he said.

"It is becoming more about taste and a sustainable food industry."

The Bushfoods Factory and Cafe won a gold medal for its finger lime, orange and grapefruit marmalade at the Perth Royal Show's jam competition in October, which Mr Form said was the first time a bush food product had won the category at the show.

Dr Woodall said Perth chefs had been enthusiastic about taking up native bush foods.

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