Orana Foundation awarded grant to develop native foods industry

Tomorrow’s 2016-17 Mid-Year Budget Review will include $1.25 million for the Orana Foundation to expand their work in the research, cultivation and production of indigenous Australian foods.

The funding, to be provided this financial year, will help create new jobs in food science and research and will promote South Australia as a centre for food innovation, combining indigenous traditional knowledge with food science and contemporary culinary practice.

The grant will enable the Orana Foundation to work with indigenous communities to:

  • Build an online native food database to capture and preserve knowledge gathered from Indigenous communities, early settlers, anthropologists and botanists;
  • Establish an Australian Food Culture Enterprise to identify, test and analyse a wider range of ingredients suitable for food preparation and health products;
  • Launch an enterprise hub to directly support product cultivation projects, skills and leadership training, market development and product placement and supply.

Benefits to the indigenous community will include the preservation of traditional knowledge of the land and native ingredients, reconnecting young Indigenous people through education and training and the creation of sustainable commercial enterprise within remote Indigenous communities.


The Orana Foundation was launched by Adelaide chef Jock Zonfrillo after years working with remote indigenous communities to discover first hand their food culture and breadth of native ingredients, which are almost wholly unknown outside those communities.

The Foundation aims are:

  • To assist remote Indigenous communities by stimulating Indigenous enterprise through supporting communities to research, document, commercialise and promote native wild foods;
  • To support the development and expansion of native wild food supply and demand for the benefit and welfare of remote Indigenous communities;
  • To alleviate Indigenous social and economic disadvantage, particularly in remote communities, through professional skills training and employment opportunities in growing, cultivating and harvesting native wild foods;
  • To preserve and promote the unique cultural heritage of traditional Indigenous food culture as a bridge to greater cultural recognition and understanding among all Australians.

Quotes attributable to Premier Jay Weatherill

It is incredible that as a society we are so unfamiliar with native foods that sustained indigenous communities for millennia.

To lose the knowledge held within these communities would be a tragedy, but understanding and promoting this food culture also represents a significant opportunity for indigenous peoples and the food sector in South Australia.

By supporting the Orana Foundation we can help preserve this knowledge and commercialise native foods by developing product lines and markets both in Australia and overseas for those products.

Quotes attributable to Orana Foundation Founder and Director Jock Zonfrillo

The Orana Foundation is the culmination of some fifteen years of direct engagement with remote indigenous communities and their elders, where so much of this knowledge resides.

This knowledge is fast disappearing as elders pass on and through the absence of intergenerational transfer, and without formal collection and preservation it will be lost forever.

Australia is extraordinarily rich in native foods with high health and nutritional properties, but has been slow to promote and develop this potential.

Only a handful of ingredients have been the subject market and product development, and even those products are produced in quantities that are insufficient to meet the current demand from the Australian restaurant industry.

This grant will give the Orana Foundation the resources it needs to undertake the research required to preserve this knowledge and develop products and markets for native Australian produce.