Farm Yarns

Black Duck Foods & Yambulla

Reviving Knowledge. Sharing Country

Written by Emily Hutchinson & Elle Jeffrey

We can use this land to teach young fellas what the old people knew. And that’s what Lore is about, honouring what the old people knew, and maintaining that.

Bruce Pascoe

Bruce Pascoe was an award-winning author before he was a farmer. As a Yuin and Bunarong man, Bruce won accolades for his 2014 book Dark Emu, which studies the ancient agricultural practices that First Nations people engaged in pre-colonization and how their use of land was much more sophisticated than previously thought.

The success of Dark Emu served as Bruce’s catalyst for farming, as he purchased land for his social enterprise Black Duck Foods with the proceeds from his book. He now leads a team of First Nations farmers who work to revive traditional food-growing knowledge for the benefit of both Country and Community. This is achieved through growing ancient, perennial grasses that are then turned into native flour. The native grains grown by Black Duck Foods have unique and unrivalled properties both in their impact on the landscape and their nutritional profile. In the video captured during our visit to Black Duck Foods, Bruce speaks to the superior qualities that native grains possess and why they represent the future of our food system in Australia.

The journey from author to farmer led Bruce to meet Jim Osborne, the land steward of a 1500 hectare property on Yuin Country called Yambulla that had been in his family for more than 73 years. When Jim inherited the land he continued to graze cattle as his family had before him, until the 2020 bushfires raged through and in their wake, he saw a new version of Yambulla begin to regenerate from the ashes. Jim had glimpses of the landscape’s true potential – a return to its natural ecology – and so he reached out to the local Yuin Community for advice. This is how he met Bruce and their shared vision for co-custodianship was born.

“That relationship has now evolved into us inviting the Guranji group into Yambulla to be part of the decision making process and to do that in the most effective way is to have them as a stakeholder so George, my husband and I, decided to give them a piece of land”

Bruce and his team of seven have been caring for Yambulla since, growing and harvesting native grains to improve landscape functionality and create economic viability for their people. Jim has created accommodation for guests to visit and stay at Yambulla, with a donation included towards the work of Black Duck Foods. Jim hopes that the model they are creating will be one that more landholders are interested in emulating, merging new and ancient land practices with people.

Bruce references the difficulties that people in young or urban areas face in accessing land and connecting to Country, but if more landholders were to become open to the idea of land-sharing, this would create places to trial new models for collaborative, productive, and restorative land management practices.

“This opportunity to share this land is going to be good for Gurindji because a lot of it is to do with caring for Country. Everyone talks about it, but to actually do it, that’s the hard part.”

This project is super important because the way this country is being managed at the moment is failing. The farmers are burning the furniture to keep warm. So it’s actually about breaking down that system from being the only person who makes decisions to collaborating with multiple knowledge bases like Uncle Bruce to make sure the land is managed properly.

Jim Osborne

Black Duck Foods is a Social enterprise that uses traditional knowledge to reconnect indigenous people with the ancient art of farming native foods.

Support empowered storytelling

Your support helps us accelerate the transition to a regenerative farming future.

 Follow on Instagram

The easiest way to show your support is by following the BDF and Yambulla Instagram pages

Learn More

You can find out more about the work of Black Duck Foods and Yambulla via the links below