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.

Friday 20 April 2012

Gluten Free Moist Date Cake

This recipe is adapted from a ‘regular’ recipe. The original recipe listed 1 1/2 cups of self raising flour and 1/4cup plain flour.

Internet search revealed the recommendation to mix almond flour with other flours to replace the total amount of white flour in baking. I don’t think my calculations are absolutely exact but the ‘mix’ worked! Guar Gum is available at Kombu, health food stores and some supermarkets. It replaces gluten’s elasticity and the 1/2 teaspoon seemed to be right for this combination of flours.

500g pitted dates
1 cup water
1/4 cup (good couple of ‘glugs’ of marsala)
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
185 g butter
2/3 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup fine almond meal
1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 cup maize flour
1/2 teaspoon guar gum (looks like a flour not a gum)

Combine dates, water, marsala and soda in bowl, stand overnight. Mash well before using.

Grease a 19cm square cake pan,line base and grease well.

Cream butter and sugar in small bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating until combined.

Transfer to large bowl. Stir in half sifted flour mixture and half undrained date mixture. Stir in remaining flour mixture and date mixture.

Bake in a moderate over for about 1 and1/4 hours. Stand 5 minutes before turning on to wire rack to cool.

Enjoy - Carol V.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Local News

Biodynamics Agriculture Australia Ltd  - "Biodynamics in the Home Garden" course at Brierfield on Friday 27 April 2012 for details click on BAA course

Mid North Coast Organics is organising a visit to an interesting Bush Food Orchard near Kempsey on Saturday 28 April for details click on Bush Food Orchard

'Save Our Seeds'

The May/June issue of 'Organic Gardener' magazine has an article by Simon Webster reporting on 'how industrial agriculture has led to a dramatic erosion of the world's seed diversity and how we can fight back'. 
 The article refers to the fast rate of disappearing seeds -
 "In the century leading up to the year 2000, the world lost 75% of the genetic diversity of its agricultural crops".  
I urge you to read the article,which includes alarming statistics about ownership of seeds,  and you will see that it includes a photo of Bellingen Seed Savers hard at work identifying seeds. 

Sunday 8 April 2012

Bellingen Seedsavers visit Jodie and Michael on the Dorrigo plains.

Click on a pic to see all the pics in full screen.

We first called at the 'planet dorrigo' mountaintop nursery at 163 Maynard Plains Road, Dorrigo.   www.theplantsource.com.au
Steve answers our questions.

Here Steve Sutton has some beautiful plants at excellent prices in arguably one of the most scenic settings for a nursery in Australia. Most of us were interested in the plants that would survive in our coastal conditions but of course Steve also stocked plants for his locality, plants that tolerate frosts and sleet. We came away with a leucothoe plant, with gold variegated leaves, some abelias with dark red autumnal tones and a new salvia to add to the collection of bee attracting plants.

On arrival at Michael and Jodie's house we were again impressed by the setting.

In eighteen months they have created a flourishing vegetable garden well serviced by chook tractors. Here is how Michael and Jodi describe their garden.

"Our garden is quite young (about 18 months) but we have managed to be reasonably prolific in that time! The main part of the garden is vegetables (annual and perennial) in contoured beds. These are very close to the house thus should be fine for access. We also use chickens/ducks/geese rotated through some of the garden beds in a bird netted area and have the hothouse/seedling area. We also have goats (great for manure close at hand), Dexter cattle, alpacas and a horse.
View from Michael and Jodi's front door
Slightly further on we have an orchard that we are establishing below the house (this is a steeper walk to get up and down to), an area of large tobacco trees that we are experimenting with using to nurse-maid some sub tropical trees to develop a "food forest". The garden is constantly expanding as we are in the process of expanding to market gardening to sell a mixture of produce. Overall a mix of "a beautiful mess" and more conventional row style gardening!

The greenhouse is essential because of the cold tablelands climate.

Growing Chinese Waterchestnut in a container prevents this plant from becoming a water weed and makes harvesting much easier.

Parsley is flourishing on the tableland but is struggling in the coastal humidity.

Kang Kong grows well in the balmy summer but will soon succumb to frost.

Michael and Jodi have restored this chaff cutter to cut mulch.

 This fence of mixed berries is temporary. They will soon be transplanted to another area.

Jodie has imported a blocking tool that presses out a peat moss mix. Each block, large or small, becomes an individual seedbed and the plants can be transplanted with minimum disturbance of the roots.

This is the large blocking tool. Read more.

This chook dome is used to clear a patch of grass before planting.

A bed of asparagus and nasturtium is surrounded by rows of comfrey. Fertilising the asparagus with comfrey and nasturtium is therefore convenient.

Globe artichokes love the climate.

These yam bean dipping sticks were cut from the large yam bean below.

This huge yam from a yam bean may have grown over two summers. Unlike potato or apple it will not quickly oxidise when cut and exposed to the air.

Nell's pineapple butter tarts were delicious.

These tasty kofta burgers were a savoury treat.

A yummy pumpkin and polenta cake. We certainly have a glut of pumpkins this season.

This moist gluten free date cake was also a hit.

These jelly palm fruits were thirst-quenching and the seed was then available for planting.


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