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.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

August Newsletter

Hi Seed Savers

First of all I am delighted to tell you that Michel and Jude Fanton, the Founders of the Seedsavers' Network, have accepted our invitation to present a workshop in Bellingen. This is quite a rare opportunity and I do hope you will be able to participate. I have approached them before but they are frequently  travelling overseas but this time  I managed to catch them at the right time.

We still have a few details to finalise but I can say that they will be here on the week-end of 17 & 18 September.  They will present a one-day workshop in Gleniffer on the Sunday and this will be preceded by a film screening and Q&A /catching up with the locals session at the CWA hall from about 4.30 or 5 to 7pm on Saturday 17th.
*If there is anyone with some time and has skills with posters and banners, I would be delighted to hear from you.  I'm suffering from event overload!                    

The Fantons have such a lot of knowledge and stories to share and they are a delightful couple.  You can see them in action, if your internet speed is up to it,  on their latest video postings on youtube.com/seedsavers, also facebook.com/seedsaversnetwork  Also visit their website at www.seedsavers.net/

The cost of the workshop will be kept at a very reasonable level and we are just working on the final details, which will be sent to you shortly.  It is the requirement of Michel and Jude that a minimum of twenty people attend the workshop and we will need to receive a minimum of fifteen registrations by two weeks before the event (3 September).   More details soon - put it in your diary.

Gathering at North Bank Community Garden 4 August
A happy mix of long term and new seed savers gathered on a beautiful day.  Thank you all for being there and special thanks for the seed and plant contributions .  The gardens look fantastic - every week brings more plants, more improvements  in the layout,design and innovation - see John Vernon's report and photos on the blog http://bellingenseedsaversunderground.blogspot.com/ .  We were even filmed on the day by a young woman from Victoria who is making a documentary and I will let you know if and when I hear more about it.  

Thank you so much to everyone who has delivered pots and containers to NBCG, to replace those stolen along with their ute.  There was a great fundraiser on Saturday and I hope they raised lots of money for a new ute.  We enjoyed some great music and the very tasty food being served and I understand that there will shortly be an expansion in the size of the kitchen.

Important Info. about Sword Bean from Carole Helman
"You may have taken some of the big pink Sword Bean seeds from our recent Gathering at David's.  My notes on the day, with the seeds, said we use the very young green pods, sliced finely, as 'green beans'.  We DON'T ever use them with developing seeds in them and an old, but very informative, book indicates that the ripe seeds probably shouldn't be eaten. (Reference: 'Tropical Crops' - Dicotyledonsby J.W. Purseglov, 19680.

Upcoming Events:

Working Bee Thursday 18 August 1pm, Bellingen
A few of us will be at Laurie's to pack seeds for the upcoming Plant Fair.  If you would like to join us or if you have some seeds or plants to contribute, please let me know as I need to have labels prepared for the packets and signs.  If you just have time to drop in for a chat, we will be pleased to see you.  If you let me know you might do this, and you haven't been to Laurie's before, I will give you the address.

Energy Festival at the Showgrounds Saturday 3 September
Bellingen Seed Savers will share the Transition Bellingen site this year, rather than having a separate stall.  The reason for this is that we will have the Plant Fair the following week-end and don't want to overstretch our resources - human and edible.  I have committed to being there and, if there is anyone who will be at the Energy Festival who would like to join me for a while, that would be nice.  I will just set up a display of posters, photos and information.  It will be a good opportunity also to promote the Fantons' events two weeks later.

Spring Plant Fair at Market Park Saturday 10 September 8am to 2pm
Please let me know if you are able to make a contribution to the preparations for our stall, either in the lead-up or on the day.  It is always a very busy and interesting day but we do need sufficient volunteers to help us survive it in good spirits.  This is our main way of fundraising  through donations for seeds and plants and raffle ticket sales.  This enables us to cover our expenses for all the various materials we need and events.  It's also a lot of fun.  It would be helpful if I can draw up the roster for the day quite soon.
We need people to: 
*Prepare signs, banners, etc.
*Help set up, take down and put up the various displays ready for the early browsers. We usually start at about 6.30am.
*Work on the stall with others and enjoy meeting interesting people of like minds.We usually have a lot of plants in pots as well as seeds and information to hand out and raffle tickets to sell. We do need several people there at any one time during the morning at least.  If you have already told me that you can help - please remind me.

The Fanton Events at CWA Hall Saturday 17th, Workshop in Glennifer Sunday 18th.  Watch this space!

Best wishes everyone - I'm really looking forward to seeing a lot of you throughout August/September.

Gathering Thursday 6th October
Gathering November Thursday 3 
Please consider hosting one of these at your place.  The more variety of gardens and areas we visit, the more interesting it becomes.  Whether your garden is new or long-established, large or small, in valley or heights.  It certainly doesn't need to be perfect.  It's such a good way for us all to share the joys and heartaches that we experience out there - and to learn from one another.




Friday 5 August 2011

Seed Savers Visit to Bellingen North Bank Community Garden in August

Midday temperatures hovered around 20 degrees centigrade as we enjoyed another perfect late winter day on our visit to the North Bank Community Garden. This garden has four directors and operates on a voluntary basis. Volunteers help grow the vegetables and fruit and also share the produce. This community garden also hosts a 'for profit' seedling supply business. The garden has planted public gardens and fruit trees around Bellingen and is involved with the sharing of locally grown food. It is auspicing another community garden at Valla and another proposed garden at Brierfield.

 (Click on any photo to enlarge.)

Kohl Rabi is being harvested in the garden. This plant will soon be ready for harvesting.

 This bed of lettuces is waiting to be thinned.

A plentiful harvest of bottle gourds is drying in the open.

New beds are being carved into the rich soil. Loads of stable manure are being trucked in. Many of the gardens are designed in this free flowing design.

A huge tatsoi awaiting harvest.

One of the last cauliflowers is almost ready for picking.

The seedling production area is supplying local businesses as far west as Dorrigo. It therefore grows a range of seedlings, some suited to frosty areas and some suited to the lowland heat and humidity.

 Jess (left) is one of the directors and operates the seedling supply business.

New solar panels, courtesy of Bellingen Solar, have been erected in the ever-growing garden. The garden has plans to landscape the riverbank and extend the orchard.

 Is this a bed of leeks?

Members were able to collect rooted sections of Lemon Grass. Some of us had been sold Citronella Grass by nurseries. The Citronella grass is unsuitable for eating and can become weedy.

The community pizza oven and barbecue is well used.

 An arch of split and bound bamboo frames the view.

Mustard has self seeded around the garden, here growing under the ginger. The 'chooks' welcome the green feed produced by the garden.

The 'seed savers' gather to share seeds, ideas and food.  We shared many seeds. New seeds added to the seed collection included Thai Egg Tomato, climbing beans, Pie Melon and Linseed. We also shared seedlings of Irene's Bok Choy and Drumstick Tree (Moringa oleifera) cuttings.

Carol enjoys a local pecan nut. The platter has Carambola and citrus grown by David.


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