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Indigenous-led enterprise—Wild Eats

In Lower River Murray, the Ngarrindjeri people have

a long and proud history as traditional owners and

custodians of land and waters. Their vision is for the

Ngarrindjeri people, children and descendants to lead

healthy lives on healthy country.

The Ngarrindjeri operate three plant nurseries

on country. After receiving government funding

to revegetate the region following drought in

2009, they became significant employers of local

Indigenous people. The Ngarrindjeri Regional

Authority’s long-term aim was to commercialise

the nurseries and continue to support jobs for their

people to preserve their country.

A series of secondees supported three Ngarrindjeri

Regional Authority organisations on this project.

A senior business analyst at the Royal Automobile

Association of South Australia developed a business

case for increasing revenue, reducing expenses and

improving nursery efficiency. A communications

manager at the South Australian Government

devised a retail brand for the nursery, ‘Wild Eats’.

Four further secondees, fromWoodside, EY (formerly

Ernst & Young) and Bank SA, began implementing

the business case. Funding to the value of $540,000

was secured for the existing nursery facilities to enter

retail and wholesale markets, and for supporting the

ongoing revegetation projects.

A corporate affairs adviser at Woodside

developed a native herbs, spices and greens

range, with a marketing strategy and new website,

A project engineer at

Woodside helped scope out planning requirements

for wild harvesting and intensive farming.

Then, connected to a philanthropic network by a

Jawun board member, a business development

manager at the South Australian Government helped

the nurseries pitch to Australia’s largest wildflower

exporter. Wild Eats became one of its cut flower

suppliers in a six-week trial partnership expected to

lead to a formal joint venture with an initial

106 new jobs for Ngarrindjeri people. With skills

and assets growing in response to the partnership,

the opportunity is expected to increase future

engagement in the wildflower market.

Luke Trevorrow, former Chief Operations Officer

of Ngarrindjeri Ruwe Contracting, explained the

significance of the secondees’ work:

The secondees’ efforts will allow us to grow

and employ Ngarrindjeri to work on our lands

and waters, which our people have done for

thousands of years. The funding they helped

secure supports us to develop our Wild Eats line

of native food and medicinal products, and to

keep planting on our country and contributing to

the health of our lands and waters.

Kevin Kropinyeri harvesting for Wild Eats, 2017.

Photo: Sally Knight