Bush To Bowl

Collaborating and learning from Australia’s First Nations People remains a priority for us at NMJ, and we recently connected to country at the local social enterprise, Bush to Bowl.

On the 21st of June, we visited the Bush to Bowl farm and nursery in Terry Hills on Sydney’s Northern Beaches for a lunch and learn bush tucker demonstration.

Join us as our Brand Manager, Emma, recounts the day and shares the biggest takeaways from the experience, as well as her chat with Bush to Bowl Co-Owner, Clarence Bruinsma.

100% Aboriginal owned by Clarence Bruinsma (Yaegl) and Adam Byrne (Garigal/Gadigal), Bush to Bowl is a social enterprise aimed at creating a healing space and platform for First Nations People by connecting to country and their traditional foodways.

"We welcome people to come into the nursery, connect with our team, volunteer, or walk around and simply enjoy the space. We run a lot of workshops for schools, corporate, private and open bookings and at events with our partners." – Clarence, Co-Founder.

A small group of NMJ team members were invited to spend half a day at the Bush to Bowl farm and nursery to learn about growing local, native plants, regeneration of bushland and immerse ourselves in a community space dedicated to fostering deeper reflection and understanding of Country’s Indigenous heritage. At its core, the Terrey Hills nursery offers an array of indigenous plants available for purchase and cultivation at home, or alternatively, freshly harvested produce to take home to your own kitchen.

However, what sets Bush to Bowl apart is their extraordinary talent for storytelling and education. Upon meeting our guide, AJ, we were instantly captivated by his skilful use of native plants and cooking as an entry point to connecting with us on a deeper level—unveiling the origins of food, age-old applications, and the profound interrelation between Country's identity, culture, and food. While kneading dough with our hands and trailing different native herbs and spices, we had real conversations, asked big questions, and learned about Aboriginal knowledge and culture.

We spoke about the difficult issues from the past and how they can be addressed and healed today for our Aboriginal communities. We shared the ways we can be strong allies and stewards for country.

"Adam and I both had the same thoughts of using native plants and growing as a means to connect with people, to share the knowledge that comes with bush foods as part of something bigger. We have been really lucky to have helped young people get their first job and support families in need. It’s the mentoring and one-on-one chats we have with these young people along the way who inspire us to do more. They give us the energy and drive."

- Clarence, Co-Founder.

Bush to Bowl aim to create culturally safe working spaces for Aboriginal communities to work, share knowledge and connect, whilst developing the economic position of the community in the bushfood industry. Though our experience at Bush to Bowl, the need for an Indigenous presence in the bush foods industry became clear as something imperative and innately obvious.

"We are only approx. 2% of a big multi-million-dollar industry built off the knowledge of Aboriginal people. We see with a greater stakeholder in this space we can generate meaningful and healthy on Country or jobs that connect with Country which support our overall well-being. The funds people spend with us go directly back to community and help Aboriginal families directly in meaningful work." - Clarence.

With the taste of wattle seed, lemon myrtle and aniseed still fresh, AJ took us on a wander through the nursery, to further explore bush tucker in a more hands on manner, learn how to identify different plants by texture, taste, and seasons. I distinctly recall the teams face when trying bush foods such as muntries, bush tomatoes, and lemon aspen for the first time - the flavour explosions, both sweet and sour, and hit of such nutrient rich foods was nothing short of amazing.

AJs passion and appreciation towards Country and native plants was truly inspiring and ultimately demonstrated the vital roles, strengths and wisdoms of our Indigenous communities and families.

"We like to think people can come up to our space, connect, join a workshop, buy a plant and put it in the ground and grow some amazing foods at home."

We are always learning, but with Bush to Bowl, we truly connected. We encourage you to follow Bush to Bowl and head to their website to learn more about the amazing work the team do, and for upcoming workshops you can attend.

As Clarence explains, "We like to think people can come up to our space, connect, join a workshop, buy a plant and put it in the ground and grow some amazing foods at home. For organisations, we love the opportunity to teach staff and connect them with our culture; to see Country as we do and put it first in all business decisions, from cutting down waste to the procurement of eco-friendly products, or simply buying from black businesses. Or come and volunteer a day and share a yarn and lend a hand at building a garden or growing some plants."

Thank you to AJ and the team for spending time with NMJ - inspiring us and sharing your unwavering commitment to fostering a profound connection between all Australians and their rich culture and heritage.

Learn more about Bush to Bowl here and discover their workshops here

Read more about our community involvement in our 2022/23 Impact Report here