“Native Foods” school plant science competition winners announced

September 6, 2022

The winners of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Hermitage Research Facility annual Schools Plant Science Competition were recently announced at a special Awards Day and Agricultural (Ag) Science Expo in Warwick. This is the first face-to-face function held for the competition in recent years, with Covid delivering online experiences for the past two years.

The Crawford Fund Queensland Committee has been supporting the competition for a decade, sponsoring the International Agricultural Science Award category, as it harnesses young minds into the wonderful world of all things plant science.

This year the competition had a ‘Native Foods’ theme in celebration of both the 125thAnniversary of the DAF Hermitage Research Facility and the 25th Anniversary of the Schools Plant Science Competition with a focus on both agricultural science research and traditional, native foods and food production systems in sustaining people today and for the past 60,000 years.

The Crawford Fund International Agricultural Science Award Winners & Runner-ups in each age category are:

Year 10-12

Winner:  Michelle Springolo, yr 12, Groves Christian College of Distance Education (Toowoomba)

Runner up:  Ruby Pettingill, yr 10, Glasshouse Christian College (Sunshine Coast)

Michelle’s fantastic project titled, Global Food Security Investigation – The science behind using native plants from across the world for food production, provided a very comprehensive analysis of native plants used as food sources globally, their nutritive qualities, and their potential to be further utilised in the face of ongoing climate change challenges.

Year 7-9

Winner:  Daniel Kuhn, yr 7C, Scots PGC College (Warwick)

Runner up:  Bonnie Petersen, yr 7B, Scots PGC College (Warwick)

Daniel’s winning entry focused on Australia’s very own native nut, the macadamia. His research covered the nut’s cultivation, use as a food, history with the indigenous people, and similar foods elsewhere in the world. He also included a very tasty sounding Macadamia and Apple Crumble recipe as part of the report!

Year 3-6

Winner:  Sebastian Sharples-Dawson, yr 5, Dalby State School

Sebastian’s project featured the Araucaria Bidwilli, the Bunya Pine, and the nut it produces. The Bunya Pine has grown in parts of Australian for millions of years, is culturally significant to our First Nation People, and, was even a food source for dinosaurs! According to Sebastian, the nuts can be milled for flour, and as they are gluten-free they are a fantastic option for people with coeliac disease. Some popular recipes include bunya nut pesto, steamed bunya nut pudding and bunya nut chocolate cake.

The Crawford Fund has free project-based high school learning materials which aim to excite educators and students to the impact of work around global food and nutrition security and the broad range of career pathways to involvement. The materials cover:

  • Climate Change & Food and Nutrition Security
  • Climate Smart Technologies
  • COVID-19 & Food and Nutrition Security
  • Australia – A Powerhouse of Agricultural Research
  • Gender Dimensions in Agriculture
  • Genebanks – More than Saving Seeds
  • Food Loss & Waste