The Environs Kimberley Social Enterprise Project has been working with Aboriginal ranger groups to lay foundations for the creation of an annual, sustainable, commercial-scale collection and sale of Kimberley wattleseed through the Wattleseed Collective. The Collective is a social enterprise which means profits from the venture go back to the collectors, and pay for the equipment, facilities and systems required to create a viable community-based enterprise.
Strongly engaging Aboriginal rangers and their Elders, the Wattleseed Collective evolved from a desire to tie together activities that support well-being, intergenerational sharing, and the development of sustainable economic opportunities for Aboriginal people and their communities on Country.
In 2022 Environs Kimberley trialled this first commercial scale wattleseed seed collection with Traditional Owner groups: Bardi Jawi, Karajarri and Nyangumarta Rangers, Yawuru Country Managers and Yiriman Women. Each group ventured into the ‘build-up’ season heat to harvest wattleseed. Seedpods were collected by laying tarps on the ground and shaking the trees, sorting, cleaning seeds, and winnowing with the breeze — with lots of laughs, shared stories, and cups of tea on Country.
Yawuru Country Managers and EK's Ayesha Moss remove the seedpods and clean the wattleseed using sieves to remove further debris. Photo: Kylie Weatherall
The wattleseed was cleaned with the assistance of generous volunteers from the Society for Kimberley Indigenous Plants and Animals (SKIPA) who experimented to refine the seed cleaning process and use sieves and vacuum seed-cleaning equipment, to remove all dust and debris and prepare the seed for sale.
Together the Wattleseed Collective harvested and cleaned 40 kgs of (mostly) soap wattle (Acacia colei) in the 2022 harvest. This amazing effort resulted in sufficient product to enable Environs Kimberley, through the Wattleseed Collective, to approach potential buyers and secure access to markets for the coming year’s collections.
Through the development of the Wattleseed Collective the Environs Kimberley Sustainable Communities team is providing technical and logistical support to enable people to collaboratively collect and prepare quality wattleseed product, and know that in fulfilling orders, their efforts will be renumerated.
Wattleseed (Acacia colei). Photo: Camera Story
What we are doing
- The Wattleseed Collective logo has been created from a beautiful artwork by Karajarri artist Anita Kitty, and developed in consultation with participants.
- We are developing the social enterprise model and financial modelling to underpin the Wattleseed Collective.
- Participants have been engaged in on-ground skills development so they can collect and clean seed in confidence.
- We have contracted Traditional Owners to coordinate seed collecting field trips with participants.
- We have established seed collecting kits so groups can undertake best practice wattleseed collection and cleaning.
- We are developing resources to assist people to engage in annual wattleseed harvest including:
- We are establishing relationships and securing access to buyers and markets for future wattleseed collections.
- We are making wattleseed collection jobs accessible and available to everyone, especially those in remote communities who might not have access to Facebook or email so have created posters to share:
Makem Money Collecting Watttleseed Poster [Plain English]. Design: Tahnee Carter. Photos: Camera Story
We have collaborated with the Bardi Jawi Oorany, Nyul Nyul, Karajarri, Nyangumarta Ranger groups, Kimberley Land Council, Karajarri Traditional Lands Association, Nyamba Buru Yawuru, Yamatji Marla Aboriginal Corporation, Nyangumarta Warrarn Aboriginal Corporation, the Society for Kimberley Indigenous Plants and Animals (SKIPA) and Yiriman Women’s Bush Enterprises.
This project is possible with support from Lotterywest, Australian Government National Landcare Program, Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal.
For more information, contact
Banner image: Nyangumarta rangers collecting Lirringkin by hand near Eighty Mile Beach. Photo: Camera Story