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Building Relationships Through Food

This was written for a group that was showcasing women in food. I wrote this after my students and I created and ran a Deadly Bush Foods Stall at the World Rafting Championships held at Tully, QLD

Now in my third year at Tully State High School, I have formed lasting friendships with the members of the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, to whom Jirrbal woman and teacher aide, Tonya Grant, whom shares her knowledge on plants and their stories with me, introduced me. Tonya and I have been working together for over two years. My other strong learning relationships are with my beautiful friends, Daniel Beeron senior supervisor, Aunty Jean Thaiday senior elder and Sandra Leo supervisor 2IC whom all work at the Girringun Nursery.

As an educator delivering Hospitality to this generation of teenagers, I find that sparking an excitement about food and the opportunities it can open up for them can be challenging within the restrictions of the classroom. It is paramount for me to be true to the country that I am standing on, learning about local foods and their history, the changing seasons, and absorbing the stories shared with me. In turn and with permission, I can pass these on to my students in my classroom.

In 2018, my students and I, in partnership with Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, hosted two Deadly Bush Food Dinners for the community, where we showcased dishes using our local native ingredients with the imparted knowledge and support of Girringun members. We presented dishes such as macadamia and ricotta stuffed chicken, baked in candlenut leaf and served on mashed potato and taro, finished with delicious Burdekin Plum chutney. A dessert of milk chocolate delice cake with Red River cherry jam and fresh coconut was immensely popular. In fact, both dinners quickly sold out – there was a palpable hunger for food of this origin.

It was from these dinners that we designed a new menu for the rafting stall, street foods such as lamb and pork sliders with Burdekin chutney and lemon Aioli, and kangaroo and ginger leaf ragout pappardelle that matched appetites on rainy nights. Version three of our Deadly Bush Food Dinner is planned for August 29, 2019.

Now our journey with the relationships we have developed through food and education has lead us to designing a Girringun Bush to Plate program, based on Stephanie Alexander’s kitchen garden program, to engage students in an authentic, connected learning space. Students will learn the science behind particular Bush ingredients while working closely with our Girringun Nursery staff and rangers, developing recipes in the kitchen and working on community engagement. In this way, I hope to nurture both their employability skills and the passion for food that fills my days.

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