The Food Forest

2004 Premier's Food Awards

Winner: Leadership in Sustainable Industry

Sponsor - Peats Soil & Garden Supplies

premiers food awards logoThe Premier's Food Awards are the most prestigious and hard fought prizes for the food industries in South Australia. The Premier said there was an exceptionally high standard of entries for this year’s awards, which applaud individuals and companies for their leadership, innovative thinking, training initiatives and export achievements.The Awards not only recognise the hard work of food producers and processors, they also give finalists and winners the Premier’s endorsement and exposure to help them enter new interstate and overseas markets.

There are four industry leadership awards, for:

  • Innovative Services to the Food Industry
  • Sustainable Industry
  • New Export Development
  • Innovation

The Food Forest won the Sustainable Industry award against a strong field including the state's pre-eminent organic dairy food company.

The Food Forest's strong ethical base gives rise to thorough attention to sustainability in every facet of the enterprise, from the initial permaculture design to the selection of providers of inputs and the retailers of Food Forest products. The fact that Annemarie and Graham Brookman practice sustainability in their everyday lives and actively teach others how to make their properties, businesses and families more sustainable made the judges' task easier.

Permaculture design emphasises the energy flow through any enterprise and figures were provided to demonstrate how much energy, in the form of fertilizers, electricity, diesel etc, the Food Forest uses per kilogram of food produced. Against a benchmark conventional property it was found to use about 20% as much energy.

The judges noted that the permaculture design demonstrates the concept of consciously harmonising a number of forms of production simultaneously on a particular piece of land, such as a pistachio orchard with barley growing between the trees as well as geese, bees and Brush Tailed Bettongs foraging; this optimisation of production provides multiple yields, biodiversity and environmental stability as well as big energy savings.

mike rann

Premier Mike Rann emphasises the value of the Food Industry to South Australia, $9.1 billion in 2004 (photo - courtesy Food SA)

peter and graham

Peter Wadewitz, Managing Director of Peats Soils & Garden Supplies (left) presents Graham Brookman with the award (photo - courtesy Food SA)

Annemarie and Graham established The Food Forest from a bare paddock 21 years ago to promote a model for sustainable land use in semi arid agricultural areas and chose to grow crops that are well adapted to the river flat near Gawler where the 15 hectare property is located; it is now Australia's largest producer of organic pistachio nuts. Another superbly adapted tree crop is the carob and the Brookmans are developing a new food from the beans. Cider, wine, olive oil, free-range geese, honey and organic fruit and vegetables are other products.

In order to derive reasonable profitability from their raw foods the Brookmans have developed value-adding systems which involve environmentally responsible equipment including a cold room built with straw-bales, a photovoltaic system for generation of solar electric power and a high efficiency dehydrator built locally. All waste water from the home and certified organic food processing facility is recycled using reedbeds.

The Food Forest acknowledges the contribution of Peter Wadewitz and his company Peats Soils in sponsoring an award that focuses attention on sustainability in the food industry which, through its massive use of water, energy, minerals and fuel, must remain a candidate for improvement.

Further information about the Premiers Food Awards and the SA State Food Plan is available on the Food South Australia website.

B.-d. Farm Paris Creek were the runners-up for the Sustainable Industry Award.