Australian Functional Ingredients – by Vic Cherikoff

A tribute to Sibylla Hess-Buschmann

The world lost a great woman on Friday, 28th May, when Sibylla Hess-Buschmann passed away after losing her battle with cancer. She leaves behind two sons, Boyd and Shawn her long time life partner, husband Guenther Buschmann as well as her brother Arno Hess and family and a great many friends and colleagues.

It has taken me a few days to get over the heavy heart and great sadness of this loss of a good friend of some 25 years. So please forgive this somewhat tardy notice if you knew Sibylla and are only just hearing of her death. The funeral is on this Saturday the 5th June near Brisbane and all are welcome to come and to celebrate her life. Please email me for the details.

Sibylla was a true pioneer of the Australian wild food movement, an entrepreneur and passionate organic farmer. She was also an enigma in that she preferred her life as a rural recluse yet dived in boots and all as a political lobbyist to get her favorite wild foods moving through the European Union’s anti-competitive and anti-trade laws of their Novel Food legislation. Her level of commitment, research, attention to detail, on-going perseverance and un-equalled dedication to the task. She paid for trips to Europe to present the case for the wild food industry as we claimed that 45,000 years of traditional use of Australian foods was proof enough of their safety. Sibylla must have looked an awesome sight with her white hair, Australian attitude, intimate knowledge of her rights and passionate belief in her cause as she presented to the political puppets of the European Novel Food Board and their foolish attempt to restrict global trade.

We spent a great many hours in phone calls, meetings and with emails over the years as we guided our respective businesses through seasonal challenges, market vagaries, industry birthing and growing pains, international issues and supply development.

Sibylla always had time to discuss matters which were future oriented which makes her passing all the more unfair, regrettable and painful. She had her eyes on the prize and together with her business partners in their collaborative group of farmers, she built a substantial global trade particularly in lemon myrtle, her focus crop.

Sibylla loved her dogs too. And anyone who relates to our canine friends earns Brownie points in life in my view. It must have been hard for her to leave her farm and move in with her brother Arno to be closer to Brisbane for the chemotherapy she needed, suspecting, expecting that she’d never return.

But a life lived establishing a new crop with so much attention to the details of sustainability, ecology, organics and natural systems is cause to celebrate. Sibylla not only begat two sons but a large part of the wild food industry, so much so that lemon myrtle is known across the planet.

We now have a responsibility to continue Sibylla’s work in making Australian wild foods a viable and valuable part of the Australian economy. A real legacy of Sibylla’s efforts is that this sector of primary industry is here to stay and others will undoubtedly now be inspired to keep the momentum she initiated, gave energy and turned into an unstoppable force.

Her’s was a life well lived and I am a better person for knowing her.



Vic Cherikoff