Seeds of Change
“We can teach our young people now — to learn revegetation processes for a healthy, natural habitat, and what the results of healthy habitats mean.” Joey Dix
Almost 80 Cape York Indigenous participants have been busy working on the Cape York Community Seed Collection Program. The program was established in early April 2018, attracting pickers from the Cape York communities of Cooktown, Hope Vale and Laura. Pickers have collected 840kg of mixed native grass seeds over three months.
Cape York Natural Resource Management initiated the program to supply local seed for gully remediation and other environmental regeneration works, including the newly established Amrun mine in Weipa. Funding from the Australian Government’s Reef Trust Investment was instrumental in establishing the project which became self-sustaining once trading with the Amrun mine began.
Michael Goddard, Cape York NRM’s Gully and Grazing Project Officer, has been working closely with seed collectors.
“All of the seed is harvested by hand, allowing for weed seeds to be rejected and ensuring that only mature seeds are selected. The hand picking method results in higher germination rates compared to mechanical harvesting which often picks immature seed,” Michael said.
The majority of the program’s seed pickers are based in the small community of Hope Vale, and it is not uncommon for families to spend weekends working together.
“The response has been tremendous. Parents are telling us the program provides the opportunity to spend quality time with their kids in the bush,
passing down traditional knowledge and generally enjoying great family interaction,” Michael said.
Cape York NRM has contracted botanist Dr James Hill to train pickers and oversee the program. James is extremely happy with all aspects of the program.
“When a whole family is picking they have the opportunity to earn a good income if they gather a lot of seed,” he said.
Seed maturing occurs during the North Queensland wet season allowing local seed collectors to receive an income when employment on the Cape is low. During the dry many Indigenous locals work on roadworks or muster on cattle stations, but as the wet season hits all of these activities end.
The program has almost concluded for 2018 with the final collection to take place in the last week of June.
Cape York NRM’s Acting CEO Will Higham said, “We are excited about this program and all of its associated benefits and we want to keep it running. To do this we are seeking other avenues for the sale of seed. Anyone interested in taking part should contact us.”
The establishment of the Cape York Community Seed Collection Program has been supported by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust Phase IV Gully and Stream Bank Erosion Control Program through the project titled ‘Scaling up Normanby Basin gully and stream bank remediation in priority areas".