About Bellingen Seedsavers

We are a group of like-minded growers of edible and useful heritage plant varieties in the Bellingen area of northeast New South Wales, Australia.

Our climate varies from frost-free coastal areas to inland river valleys and highlands with frosts. Bellingen has an average annual rainfall of 1507ml.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

June 22 Solstice visit to David's food forest in Gleniffer

Established over ten years David now has a forest with paths under the tree limbs. About 30 Seed Savers attended and enjoyed the relaxed stroll on the paths, the food, the chat and the seed/plant sharing.

Come on Dad.

David and Sandy consult.

David and Sandy consult. Don looks on.

Now what is that tree? Here is the bean pod.
It turned out to be

Black Bean, Moreton Bay Chestnut or

Castanospermum australe

Gillian digs some of David's strawberries

Chatting and eating around the log fire.

Monday, 10 June 2019

"Save Our Food. Free the Seed." : New York Times

These are a few excerpts from an article that spells out why we need to save our local seeds.

"The type of seed also dictates the fertilizer, pesticide and fungicide regimen, sold by the same company as part of the package, requiring a particular planter and sprayer (40 feet and 140 feet wide, respectively) and producing a per-acre yield that is startling, and startlingly easy to predict.

It is as if the seed is a toy that comes with a mile-long list of component parts you’re required to purchase to make it function properly.

We think that the behemoths of agribusiness known as Big Food control the food system from up high — distribution, processing and the marketplace muscling everything into position. But really it is the seed that determines the system, not the other way around."

"The seeds in my palm optimized the farm for large-scale machinery and chemical regimens; they reduced the need for labor; they elbowed out the competition (formally known as biodiversity). In other words, seeds are a blueprint for how we eat."

"We should be alarmed by the current architects.

Just 50 years ago, some 1,000 small and family-owned seed companies were producing and distributing seeds in the United States; by 2009, there were fewer than 100. Thanks to a series of mergers and acquisitions over the last few years, four multinational agrochemical firms — Corteva, ChemChina, Bayer and BASF — now control over 60 percent of global seed sales."

"According to a report published by the Organic Seed Alliance, most large-scale organic crop acreage is planted with conventional seed. Despite a recent uptick in the production of organic seed, there isn’t enough to go around. “Not if you want to plant 200 acres,” one midsize organic farmer told me. “Not even if you want to plant 50 acres.”
Farmers find themselves hobbled by weak plants that were designed to be weaned on chemicals.

It’s not hard to see why organic food is expensive. Farmers have to price the organic carrots to reflect the cost of production in a world designed for them to fail. In the checkout aisle, we wince. A consensus is reached: Organic carrots are a noble idea but not a practical one to feed our growing population."

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Vale Seed Saver David Wallin

Dear Seed Savers,

We are sorry to inform you of the sudden passing of David Wallin.
Irene Wallin, supported by David every step of the way, initially founded the Bellingen Seed Savers as part of Transition Bellingen. 

David and Irene were key people in our Seed Savers group until just a few years ago, when they had to become less involved due to declining health.
David Wallin at a Seed Savers stall

There will be drinks, nibbles and tall tales at the Old Butter Factory, this Thursday, June 6, 2:00-4:00pm to celebrate David's life. All who knew him are welcome.
David and Irene Wallin

Monday, 3 June 2019

Fruiting in the Bellinger Valley in late May.

A seed grown Pomegranate fruit
"The fruit mature between March and May (in Australia) and can be picked a little before full maturity and ripened in storage. In areas where rain occurs during harvest, pick the fruit before they are fully ripe to avoid the skin becoming waterlogged and splitting." Green Harvest

Perhaps this fruit, the first from this tree, should have been picked then left to ripen.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

A Killer on our Streets, in our Yards and Bush: Bob The Beeman

African Tulip Tree

I wondered why our native bees were declining in our food forest. there are a number of African Tulip Trees nearby.

"The African Tulip Tree (Spathodea campanulata) is listed as a Class 3 pest by the DPI, and can no longer be sold or distributed in Qld. However its past history of distribution as a street and landscaping tree has ensured plentiful escapes into natural and urban habitats displaying the behaviour that justifies its inclusion in the Global Invasive Species Database “Top 100 World's Worst Invaders”.

Drive around most suburbs of Brisbane or other Queensland towns and the chances are you will see examples on the the footpath or in yards. Out in the countryside, its bright orange flowers stand out over the cooler months of the year.

Unfortunately if one takes the time to look closer, this beauty conceals a lethal threat to our stingless bees. Look at the sprays of flowers and you will see stingless bees attracted to the flowers for foraging. Look closer and you will see the bees gathering pollen, and seemingly imbibing other plant secretions as well as nectar. Unfortunately if you continue the examination into the flowers, you will find the result of that foraging for pollen and nectar, a collection of dead and dying stingless bees and other insects.

While I cannot say just what the chemical mechanism of the toxicity is, it seems to be quick, I have watched a bee in its death throes within the flower itself. I have collected many such specimens.

Information published in Brazil found that the gathered pollen did not get back to the hives, so the attracted bees are killed before they can return. Unfortunately the mechanism of attraction is strong and the numbers of stingless bees killed can be quite large in areas where stingless bees are present."

by Bob Luttrell, Bob the Beeman. (B Ag Sc)

Read the full article 

See also:

Three Seedsavers properties for sale in Bellingen area

Sunday, 26 May 2019

How Small Farms Can (Sustainably) Feed The Future

"Small farms farm better.

And large farms can’t.

Small farms are the best hope that we hold of feeding a future of 9 billion (and beyond). At the same time they hold the potential to redistribute wealth, conserve biodiversity, secure livelihoods for some of the world’s most marginalised and ensure a continuation of traditional cultural relationships with the land. They are truly our most sustainable option."

"Sustainable development in agriculture would ensure that the economic, social, environmental and cultural needs of present and future generations are met. Sustainable agriculture rests on these four pillars."

Monday, 15 April 2019

A garden visit to Susan's suburban garden in Urunga

Over the last 3 years, Susan has been steadily building her garedn from scratch, in the middle of Urunga. The good soil and the mild climate have worked with her, to produce a rewarding mix of ornamental natives and a productive vegie patch. Bigger and better things are planned for the patch, but so far so good with this garden project.

We gathered on a sunny day with a hint of coastal breeze. We shared stories, plants, cuttings, seedlings, food and garden books.

Susan in pink shares her Key Lime seedlings

Add caption

Susan's flourishing Okra Crop

Show and Tell is always a feature of our gatherings: Brisbane Greenhouse-grown Cacao Pods

 April 13, 2019

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Garden visit to Susan's in Urunga

SATURDAY April 13, 11.00pm - 2:00pm

Remember to seek out the sign-in sheet on arrival.
Please bring a snack plate to contribute to our quick shared brunch
Over the last 3 years, Susan has been steadily building up from scratch, in the middle of Urunga. The good soil and the mild climate have worked with her, to produce a rewarding mix of ornamental natives and a productive vegie patch. Bigger and better things are planned for the patch, but so far so good with this garden project.

If you have them:
Please bring seeds or cuttings to share.
Coming? please click here to RSVP, to obtain the address and so we know who’s attending. Please RSVP even if you already know how to get there.

Organiser: Lisa O'Callaghan / gardenvisits@bellingenseedsavers.com or phone 0417 536 490

Friday, 1 March 2019

Three Seedsavers properties for sale in Bellingen area

Three properties from members who have made major contributions to Bellingen Seed Savers are currently up for sale. All three properties are stunning and worth perusing the Real Estate pages for dream inspiration value alone.
Irene & David Wallin, who founded Bellingen Seed Savers are downsizing.
Nell, long time generous member who died last year. Her garden paradise of 40 years is up for sale, only 5 mins from Bellingen.
House plus Food Forest
John & Carol Vernon are selling their established food forest in Fernmount to retire and move to increase their Walk score.


Seed labelling for the Autumn Plant Fair at Gillian's in Fernmount March 5

Diary Dates

Seed labelling for the Autumn Plant Fair at Gillian's in Fernmount

TUESDAY March 5, 1.00pm - 3:00pm

Remember to seek out the sign-in sheet on arrival. 
Please bring a snack plate to contribute to our quick shared afternoon tea
On Saturday March the 9th, Bellingen Seed Savers presents seeds (including these ones you can help label) and plants at a stall at the Bellingen Spring Plant Fair! In preparation, we will gather to label seed packets, and share  afternoon tea and plant knowledge.

We have about 600 packets of seeds to label. After that we can go into full on relaxation mode with afternoon tea and take in the beautiful view from Gillian's deck.

Any questions, contact Jeff on seeds@bellingenseedsavers.com
If you are coming, please click here to RSVP, to obtain the address and so we know who’s attending. Please RSVP even if you already know how to get there.
Organiser: Jeff / gardenvisits@bellingenseedsavers.com

Thursday, 28 February 2019

February Seed Packing at Gillians preparing for March 9 Plant Fair


Probably because it was on the weekend, we had quite a few members turn up to make quick work packing seeds for the coming Bellingen Autumn Plant Fair on March 9.

If you can assist on the stall please contact Gillian or ask another member for contact details.

Note the wonderful view from Gillian's deck.

Jeff, as usual, did a terrific job organising the seeds we needed to process and taking the photos below.

Gillian was a great hostess and lunch was a medley of treats, many dishes grown in our gardens.

"Thanks to Gillian who hosted the seed packing event, Jeff who kept us all organised, to the people who donated seed and to all the happy seed packers.

After spending the previous few days with the threat of being blown away, the weather was very kind to us for the seed packing event. There was not even enough breeze for winnowing off the chaff!

Eighteen volunteers turned up, and with guidance from Jeff and other experienced seed packers, we cleaned and packed seed. Approximately 600 packets of seed were packed into small clip-lock bags. The number of seeds in each bag is determined by the size of the seeds. Purchasers will get a lot more carrot seeds than Madagascar beans.

Besides gaining knowledge on seed preparation, and sharing time and lunch with other seed savers, participants got to take home some seeds which we had excess of and some free produce that some generous members brought from their gardens.

The next step is putting the clip-lock bags into envelopes and labelling them ready for the plant fair on March the 9th."  

From our newsletter

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Garden Visit to Leela’s in Dorrigo

Thanks to all who made the trek up the mountain for a look-see at Leela's latest efforts. The garden has now become very 3 dimensional and productive. She has been expanding and experimenting; some successes and some failures, and lots of learning!

"It's been a couple of years since some of you last saw my 'toy farm'; I have been busy experimenting and shaping my adventure garden and food forest. Having had some successes with grafting, I have planted new fruit avenues and optimistically snuck a few tropicals into the shrubbery 😉

I am also now experimenting with colonising the rafters in my conservatory; always keen to utilize a discovered microclimate! Some other projects are having greater and lesser successes, but still enjoying the challenge and experience of it all."

The living room and decks were brimming with good cheer and good humour, even when Leela hustled everyone out into the garden, plates in hand, before an ominous cloud rolled in.
The geese were chatty, the rain timely, and a jovial day was had by all.

A local garden in February 2018

When Paul from Barefoot Gardens trims our front hedge it makes such a difference.

New garden
 The removal of the nine years old Panama Berry left a sunny space for Salvias, Turmeric and Amaranth. We have planted a new Panama Berry below our shed. The berries taste like boiled lollies.

Great for green goodness in warmer latitudes.
Chaya Spinach Tree
 Photographed from our deck the top of this 2.5m Chaya Spinach Tree appears like a green mound of green goodness.

An excellent Asparagus substitute
Surinam Spinach
Surinam Spinach is great Asparagus substitute.

Crepe Myrtles, pink, mauve and white, are in full flower throughout our district.
Crepe Myrtle
Crepe Myrtles, pink, mauve and white, are in full flower throughout our district.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Midsummer in a Bellingen seedsaver's garden.

Even in the hottest of midsummer with heatwaves pounding Australia we have produce available and an exciting garden to explore.

A capsicum with a bite
Perennial Capsicum with a bite

Perennial Capsicum seem to grow more of a bite and end up like mild chilis as they age.

Baby custard apple alongsiude a chili
Baby custard apple alongside chili

This Amarillo Chili has grown up supported by the branches of the Custard Apple.

Amarillo Chili

Our first really ripe Chili of the season

Surely a most beautiful clumping bamboo
Mexican Weeping Bamboo

This clumping bamboo screens and weeps. It is easy to manage.

Baby Golden Hornet crabapples
Baby Golden Hornet Crabapples

Golden Hornet is a universal apple tree pollinator. The fruit is small.

Path to explore at the pond
Path to explore at the pond

Even tiny mango trees can produce.
Even tiny mango trees can produce.

We grew this small tree from seed. It may turn out to be dwarf. This a five year old tree.

The Amla has suddenly shot up.
The Amla has suddenly shot up.

Perhaps we will have fruit this season.

Curious chooks
Curious chooks

Not all eggs.
Not all eggs.

Grey Mugwort makes a great nest liner and discourages mites.

Tree tomatoes are a heavy producer.

Tamarillos are our most productive fruit. Use as a tomato or a desert fruit.

Green Sapote
Green Sapote

Although this Green Sapote is yet to fruit it still contributes a fabulous tropical evocative shape to our garden.

Feeding the birds with nectar
Golden Lyre Grevillia

This Grevillia is loved by all of our local birds.

Delicious fruit
Baby Acerola cherries

The fruit is scarce but delicious.


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