Seed Savers


Lawrence F. London, Jr.
Title: Seed Savers

Homepage of


of Australia

Home grown food assures you a greater variety of fresh food that reaches your table with its nutritional qualities intact and free of unwanted chemicals. Home saved seeds assure you of high quality plants that are not genetically engineered.

Click on any of these subheadings to obtain more information:

Major Aims of Seed Savers

Recent Media Coverage

History of Seed Savers

Overseas Projects

The Seed Savers' Handbook

Current Newsletter

News from the Seed Bank

Global Permaculture Plant and Seed Exchange

Seeds our Members Offer

Upcoming Events


You are visitor number Counter out of order to this page.


Major Aims of Seed Savers

Our major aims are

To develop and promote:

To provide:

To find out more about our aims see The Complete Aims of Seed Savers

History of Seed Savers

We are eleven years old!

The Seed Savers' Network was founded in 1986 to preserve the diversity of our cultural plants. Its activities include a newsletter, seed exchange, seed bank, frequent workshops and the publication of a best selling handbook on the subject in Australia with recently a version for cold climates being published in the UK. This work is funded solely by our subscribers. We function on a very limited resources, with the help of many volunteers.

Some of our achievements:

Here's our present team of volunteers:

Deirdre Kempson, who is our seed banker, puts in several days a week extra as a volunteer. Deirdre has had experience in a different kind of bank, nurseries and health food shops. She has been with Seed Savers for two and a half years and is an invaluable team member. If you write to us it will most likely be Deirdre who sends a well-considered answer.

Peta Beeman brings a wide range of skills from previous jobs with the Education Department and National Parks and Wildlife Service as a graphic artist and publications specialist. She was also active in the Wildplant Rescue Service in the Blue Mountains before moving here. Her husband, Oliver Rennert, who is a professional illustrator and artist, also creates wonderful images for Seed Savers.

Sandra Heilpern also brings a wide range of skills from training to management, from research to participatory appraisal. Sandra is the environment representative on several state and federal boards and is particularly helpful with forward planning.

Sue Williams was a maths teacher and so found it no problem to work out the percentages on the germination tests she conducted on all incoming batches of seed for a year. Sue is now Deirdre's major assistant in accessioning, that is recording, repackaging and filing the seeds as they come in.

Eve Wright has taken over the germination testing and has been coming diligently for several months to help in the seed bank.

Amitabha has been coming for four months to help organise the magazine rack and files and help in the seed bank.

Hugh Simmons has helped with systems and improving our use of our office equipment.

Sarah Bock has taken time out of her media course at university to help us establish a routine for updating this page.

Recent Farewells:

April 24th we farewelled Susie Wren who was here for nearly four months on an internship from the UK. Susie has a placement with Volunteer Service Overseas later this year and will take her new seed saving skills with her to the third world.

May 22nd we said goodbye to Paula Williams who has been coming once a week for nearly two years to catalogue our library. We receive dozens of journals and collect books on ethnobotany, particularly antique ones. We wish Paula all the best in her new ventures in W.A. We also said goodbye recently to Bronwyn Sindel who leaves for the US for six months and has helped with preparing books for mail order.

To find out more about what Seed Savers is currently doing, see our Current Newsletter.

The Seed Savers' Handbook

This is a complete reference for growing, preparing and conserving traditional varieties of food plants. It was written especially for Australian and New Zealand conditions in 1993 by Michel and Jude Fanton, founders of The Seed Savers' Network.

The Seed Savers' Handbook has 176 pages with stunning original black and white illustrations.

To date (November 1996), 16 000 copies have been sold.

Jackie French writes in the Australian Womens' Weekly:

"The Seed Savers' Handbook explains how to collect seeds from 117 vegetables and herbs, and what varieties are best suited for where you live. It is impossible to praise the Handbook too highly. It gives clear instructions based on personal observation - not the standard and often vague or even incorrect material repeated from gardening book to gardening book."

Bill Mollison, recipient of the Australian Achiever Award 1993, says in the book's preface:

"I believe this book to be essential for all caring farmers, gardeners, cooks and parents, and I trust it will speed our return to good nutrition and a healthy society."

Available from the authors $23 post paid (within Australia, and AUD30 overseas).


See All about The Seed Savers' Handbook for excerpts and How to Subscribe to Seed Savers and Order A Handbook

News from the Seed Bank

We constantly receive seeds from gardeners and farmers and distribute them to keep them in cultivation and culture.

Recent arrivals are

 a reddish-brown seeded Snake Bean called Katsang Panjang that is hardy, long-bearing, tender and tasty when eaten young. Seed Savers' Number: 2731B

 Moon and Stars Watermelon which has large round fruit to basketball size with excellent tasty red flesh and skin and leaves have large and small yellow spots. Number 3375

 English Lettuce which is a family heirloom, pre 1940's grown for many years on the island of Tawuni, Fiji, similar looking to Mignonette, from Toowoomba. Number 4001

Volunteers have weighed them, repackaged them with sachets of silica gel and oxygen absorbers and set up germination tests on a small sample. If they pass that test, they will be sent to Tamborine Mountain where a group of volunteers make them up into seed packets, which are then sent out to gardeners and growers for the cost of postage only.

Seeds our Members Offer

Early each Spring we print a long list of what our members offer in Seed Savers Spring Newsletter. Last Spring there were over 1 100 varieties of useful plants offered. we plan for this list to be accessible on this website.

You can access these plants, and the many in our seed bank, by subscribing to Seed Savers.

See How to Subscribe to Seed Savers and Order a Handbook

To see what Queenslanders offered in the current newsletter, see Database of Seeds Offered

Recent Media Coverage

There was an article on Seed Savers in the October 1st to 7th issue of The Land and Jude Fanton appeared on Gardening Australia in March 1997. The segment was set in the Tamborine Mountain garden of Barry and Shirley Waters who are long-time great supporters of Seed Savers.

You can see articles on the work of The Seed Savers' Network in the June 1996 issue of The Austalian Women's Weekly, the South Pacific Agricultural News and Common Path which is put out by The Commonwealth Foundation in our Excerpts from Recent Media Coverage

Overseas Projects

In order to have access to a wide diversity of useful plants to meet our essential needs beyond 2000, we must gather, annotate, and caretake these resources now, before they are further eroded.

It is essential that in each bioregion, island-state or country every effort is made to locate what is already there before we start moving planting material around the planet.

To date we have initiated the setting up of three networks: in the Solomon Islands (Planting Materials Network), Tonga (Save Our Seed Project) and the Caribbean (Red de las Semillas). We delivered Community Seed Bank Training to government and non-government workers, agriculture teachers and lecturers, women's groups and farmers.

The Solomon Islands

In October 1995 two trainers from Seed Savers went to The Solomon Islands to assist the APACE Kastom Garden Project. A young Australian, Tony Jansen, has continued working there. He has worked with local people to publish four newsletters, establish seed gardens near the capital, and at a hospital in the western provinces and run a community awareness campaign about dynamic seed banks and conserving local food varieties in The Solomons.

Havana, Cuba

In January 1996, in collaboration with the Australian Green Team which has had volunteers for many years in Cuba, and with the Department of Urban Agriculture, Seed Savers trained sixty seven agriculture extensionists in how to locate, gather, multiply and disseminate local seeds. A Red de las Semillas (Seed Network) has been established, and is being administered by Urban Agriculture.


In July 1996, Michel Fanton from Seed Savers caried out a community development programme in the Kingdom of Tonga which included training an officer at the Tonga Trust on how to run a seed network. The Save Our Seeds Project was inaugurated. You can read about how that project applies to the Pacific in the South Pacific Agricultural News in Excerpts from Recent Media Coverage.

For more information see More About Seed Savers Overseas Projects

Global Permaculture Plant and Seed Exchange

At the Sixth International Permaculture Conference in September, The Seed Savers' Network, along with representatives from twenty six countries, inaugurated a Global Permaculture Plant and Seed Exchange.

It is in its first phase GPPASE will compile a directory of seed banking organisations and networks that Seed Savers will publish this year. If your organisation or network is involved in community seed banks, please send details. We would also appreciate hearing from you if your organisation has planting material to offer. Send details in less that 100 words of

* species,

* types,

* growing conditions,

* months of availability

to seedsave@om.com.au

Upcoming Events

July 5th A Taste of Byron

Seed Savers will have a Pacific style stall with food made of local non-hybrid produce in the streets of its home town to promote the taste of real food.

Seventh Australasian Permaculture Convergence, October 11th to 18th 1997.

The village of Nimbin was a sleepy shrinking community of loggers and dairy farmers until twenty five years ago when city dwellers and others sought a more wholistic lifestyle and moved into the hills surrounding this sub-tropical valley. Seed Savers was situated in Nimbin for its first five years.

The theme of the Convergence is Sustaining Diversity. The first day is about nature, the second people and the third organisations. Seed Savers will have a strong presence on the first day. Just before and after the Convergence we will offer two workshops, one to Permaculture graduates and the other to members of the public.

Seed Saving Course

The next course that we offer on Seed Saving, Seed Banking and Seed Networking will be held in Byron Bay from October 27th to November 1st, 1997. Its title is Plant Diversity Survival with a particular focus on overseas development work. Two Solomon Islanders Sarah from the Sup Sup Gardens and Roselyn who works with the Kastom Garden Project (APACE) are planning to come.

Tenth Annual Conference

The Seed Savers' Network has its Annual Conference during the final weekend of October. This year's Annual Conference, our tenth, will be held in Byron Bay. The theme is Seeds: the Neverending Chain.

It will be held on the 25th and 26th of October in a community hall in the grounds of the Suffolk Park Caravan and Camping Ground five kilometres south of Byron Bay. Cabins (book early) and camping available Tel. (066) 853 353.

In the mornings there will be speakers on a wide range of topics encompassing seed saving and permaculture. Dr Kate Short, coordinator of the National Toxics Network has indicated an interest in speaking on her important educational work about household, agricultural and industrial chemicals.

There will be workshops in the afternoons providing hands-on experience and the usual brisk seed exchange.

Copyright 1996 Seeds Savers
Mail To: seedsave@om.com.au