Lawrence F. London, Jr.
Title: Seed Savers
THE SEED SAVERS'
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
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of Seed Savers
Our major aims are
To develop and promote:
- educational programmes for the preservation of
open-pollinated (non-hybrid) seeds and the genetic diversity of
- seed banks for non-hybrid plant varieties;
- open-pollinated seed stock to individuals, groups
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:
- We have had over 4 000 varieties come through our
- Over 5 000 people have been directly involved
with Seed Savers.
- 20 000 sample packets of original seeds are made
up each year by volunteers from the Tamborine Mountain Seed
Savers' group for us to give away. Banora Point Garden Club near
Tweed Heads began packing seeds too in March 1997
- 16 000 copies of The Seed Savers' Handbook sold
in four years.
- 1 100 varieties of seeds and other planting
material were offered in our last Spring newsletter (1996).
- Seed Savers' Networks have been set up in three
Here's our present team of
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.
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,
Rennert, who is a professional illustrator
and artist, also creates wonderful images for Seed Savers.
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
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.
has taken over the germination testing and has been coming diligently
for several months to help in the seed bank.
has been coming for four months to help organise the magazine rack
and files and help in the seed bank.
Simmons has helped with systems and improving
our use of our office equipment.
has taken time out of her media course at university to help us
establish a routine for updating this page.
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
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
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
the Seed Bank
We constantly receive seeds from gardeners and
farmers and distribute them to keep them in cultivation and
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
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.
To see what Queenslanders offered in the current
newsletter, see Database
of Seeds Offered
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
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
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.
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
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
* growing conditions,
* months of availability
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
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
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
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.