Like many other skills, gardening (and growing your own food) is a skill that's been kept alive through intergenerational connections. Through the passing on of knowledge. A "granny skill" worth having. Rebecca Sullivan has built a business dedicated to keeping all manor of granny skills alive and kicking, from growing food to cooking, homemaking and more. Consider her your ultimate grower, foodie and sustainability champion. Her love for food has evolved over the years, leading her to complete a Masters in International Rural Development and Sustainable Agriculture.
Rebecca's husband, Damien is from Adnyamanthanha country and his heritage has inspired their book Warndu Mai (Good Food) which pays homage to indigenous Australian foods and native ingredients - many of which you can grow yourself! Grow It Local team member, Ellie wanted to know more, and get some fab recipes to share with you!
In building something as collaborative as Warndu Mai, where did it all start for you? The plants? The recipes? The people?
Actually it started with Damien and I seeing an absolute need to champion his culture and the food was second. We wanted to protect his language and all of the things passed down generationally to him, so it made sense to combine that with my Granny Skills work and work in food. From a collaboration perspective, well it has to be that way for the industry to grow. We are also natural collaborators anyway.
What do you think will surprise people the most when reading Warndu Mai?
That so many of these ingredients are easier to get than perceived.
What were some of the challenges you found in bringing Warndu Mai to life?
Finding out which ingredients we wanted to use VS what was going to be accessible to everyone and easily.
We know you’re a savvy grower and we want to know what’s going on in your garden…
Well we have 86 acres of Native trees, our most important asset as Regenerative farmers and soil stewards. We have a huge cottage garden with mainly native plants and lots of hardy and native herbs around the house. Every time I go on a walk with our dog Wattle we find new plants, its so amazing. They just self seed everywhere.
Heading into Winter, what would we be most likely to find in your patch and is there anything you’re particularly excited to be harvesting?
Well this year my patch is mainly garlic because I am going to YALE as a world fellow from August - December so will start again when I get home. Until I leave though I have lots of Native herbs, lettuce and bitter greeens, onions, cabbages and cauliflowers coming and hopefully plenty of potatoes.
And what about recipes? What are you cooking most this time of year?
Soups, bone broths and just about anything we can cook on our wood fire plus plenty of Saltbush soda bread.
At Grow It Local, we believe growing your own food is definitely a granny skill worth having! What is your best advice for someone wanting to start growing their own food but who thinks they lack time, space or skills.
I say start small. You can live self sufficiently from day one regardless of having a huge farm or small garden. Start with a herb and lettuce pot and go from there. The sheer joy of growing anything yourself is addictive.
Which indigenous ingredient would you recommend most to those growing food at home? And why?
Native thyme (Incisa) its hardy, keeps growing and is great in both sweet and savoury dishes. Plus it has stunning purple flowers.
Try Rebecca's Chia crusted Barramundi with chickpea mash seasoned with native thyme.