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By Aneeka Simonis

THE secret to growing and cooking Australian natives can be found in a new book published by Tynong North ecologist and native food specialist Julie Weatherhead.
Ms Weatherhead, who owns Peppermint Ridge Farm, said more than 20 years of research went into the book, Australian Native Food Harvest: A Guide for the Passionate Cook and Gardener.
It showcases 31 native food plants and includes tips on how to grow, harvest and cook them.
The book also delves into the health benefits of each native, how they contribute to the ecosystem and environmental sustainability.
Ms Weatherhead, an environmental scientist and ecologist, said the book includes more than 60 recipes served up at the original Nar Nar Goon North schoolhouse which has been converted into a cafe and bush foods education centre.
“I became interested in native plants as a child growing up here at Tynong North roaming through the bushland on our farm,” she said.
“I fell in love with the look, flavours and culinary possibilities of these wonderful edible native plants.”
The book also contains information about lost opportunities in Australia’s food industry.
“The French perfume industry is an interesting story of lost opportunities – the flower that they distil to achieve the unique French aromatics is the Victorian Silver Wattle,” Ms Weatherhead explained.
Ms Weatherhead and her husband Anthony Hooper have development a ‘taste, learn, see’ experience with visitors to their Peppermint Ridge Farm.
They offer guided tours of their native garden, dining sessions and cooking workshops.
The book is available for $29.95 from website peppermintridgefarm.com.au

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