A growing interest in native plants for both food and cosmetics is increasing the diversity of local produce.

Story + Photos David Hancock

Horticulturalist and native-food advocate Peter Hardwick is a professional forager who explores the back roads, rainforests and coastal dunes of northern New South Wales looking for edible plants.

Employed at Harvest restaurant in Newrybar, a small, historic village between Lismore and Byron Bay, Peter gathers native plants to complement a highly imaginative menu and to accompany fresh, organic food from local artisan producers and the restaurant’s garden. He primarily collects coastal succulents, rainforest fruits, native herbs, nuts (from bunya and pandanus trees) and some plants considered weeds, such as farmer’s friend. Popular coastal succulents include seablite, sea purslane, samphire and baby sun rose, while rainforest fruits include Davidson plums, finger limes and various lilly pillies. The wild foods, which are rich in vitamins, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, are used in salads and desserts, and fermented into vinegar, wine, syrup and liqueurs.

This story excerpt is from Issue #119

Outback Magazine: June/July 2018