Desert Harvest History: No Place for a Woman?
Demeter, Goddess of the Earth, Fertility and Fruits of the Earth, is said to symbolize all things to do with ‘food harvesting’ or ‘food farming’. It is her story that inspired the national theme for Women’s History Month 2010 ‘Demeter’s Daughters: Women’s harvest history’ and the National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame contribution to this commemoration – a display entitled: Desert Harvest History – No place for a woman?
‘Primary Industry’ in Central Australia has taken many forms over the years – from wild food harvest, homestead and market gardening and farming for family sustenance to large commercial grazing and horticulture businesses. Traditional Aboriginal lifestyles relied on use of the land in its entirety for survival; and the predominant land-use in Central Australia continues to be large tracts given over to grazing. Adaptations to the desert environment in the form of niche horticulture crops and business enterprises that partner food production are also growing in number and importance.
Lifestyles of all Central Australians, Aboriginal and more recent settlers, have changed over the years. The desert harvest stories depicted in this display reflect this in the way the characters, settings and creative enterprises have varied over time. However the end results have a common thread – country once viewed as ‘the dead heart of Australia’ has given generously in the form of a relatively bountiful ‘desert harvest.’
Many thanks to volunteer Anne Scherer for all her hard work on designing and developing this exhibition.