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.

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Using Coffee Cherries - Flour, Tea, Jam/Jelly

Coffee Flour is…

"…An agricultural innovation with the potential to do some really great things for the world. And we don’t just mean the food world.

Each year the billions of coffee beans that eventually make their way into the Americanos, lattes, and no-foam, extra-hot, triple-shot cappuccinos of the world are harvested by milling and extracting them from the coffee plant. The surrounding fruit, is discarded. It often gets dumped into rivers or left to rot in heaps. So we invented something better to do with it. Something that’s better for everyone."

Read the full article on http://www.coffeeflour.com/

Also read about
Drying coffee beans at home

Growing + Making Cascara: Coffee Berry tea

See also Making Jam without Sugar

#coffee #coffeecherries #coffeeflour #coffeejam

Monday 19 November 2018

What Insect Was That?

In November we visited Tricia's garden in Brierfield.

Debbie Kent, an entomologist who has worked for both the NSW Department of Agriculture and NSW Forestry, identified any insect brought to the gathering. 

A civilised gathering.

Deb explaining Insects 101

Of course we always share fantastic food.

Checking out that insect photo.

Tuesday 23 October 2018

The Spring Plant Fair - September 2018

This plant fair was bigger and buzzing more than usual. The word on the ground was that shifting the produce market to the same venue for the day was really making a difference.

What do we do with the money raised?
It's a fair question that comes up from time to time. We are all volunteers, and the money raised pays for our running costs such as insurance, the website, the seed packets, bags and labels and printer ink. We have purchased extra tables and had banners printed for the stall in the past and this time around we bought new tablecloths for the stall, at last. We will be getting a second gazebo of our own too as the one lent to us by Debbie has proved very handy - thank you Debbie.

BSS seeds will soon be available in the Bellingen Library. We are having a seed stand crafted by a local cabinet maker. Stay tuned, you will soon be able to get seeds at any time of year, not just at the plant fairs.

We are also looking to secure a mushroom growing workshop in Autumn (we missed out last year) and we are cooking up another weekend away, both to be subsidised by BSS for active members.

Greenpatch Organic Seeds open day

Organic herb seedlings
Three carloads of us carpooled down to near Taree in time for the advertised start time of 10am. Only to be told that the day had been cancelled at the last minute due to the carpark ground being too soft. However, we were hardly the only ones who didn't get the memo in time, and within half an hour, approximately 50 people had gathered in expectation of the days offerings.

They decided to run the day after all.

We were all led around the property for a farm tour. 

Greenpatch have been growing organic seeds for edible plants for 25 years from this little 5? acre plot. 
 Plantings are dense, crops are rotated, they have their irrigation system and mulching figured out. To prevent unwanted cross pollination within plant families they use fruit fly netting. This covers the other crops in the family to exclude pollinators while the first one, the most ready to set seed, is left uncovered. They do this on a grand scale.

Their seed cleaning equipment is not much more sophisticated than ours. Their sieves are larger and they use a fan on a gentle setting for winnowing. For some seeds there is a sifting machine - a barrel shaped sieve run by a motor.

We were also given a seed sowing and propagation demonstration, and a talk on native stingless bees.

In between, we feasted on an impromptu morning tea and lunch that was magnificent.

Greenpatch have a huge variety of open pollinated heritage organic seeds for sale, as well as useful gardening bits and bobs including their fruit fly netting.


Thanks to Jeff for all our photos.

Wednesday 3 October 2018

Diary Dates: Green Patch Seeds Visit October 14

Diary Dates

Visit to Green Patch Organic Seeds Open Day, Taree

Sunday 14th October, 10am - 2pm

We will be carpooling to this event, to arrive in time for the Farm Tour at 10am. Please RSVP if you would like to be included in the carpool, otherwise, see you there!
Entry: FREE
Tea & Coffee Provided    
Where:  Greenpatch Organic Seeds, 109 Old Bar Rd, Glenthorne, NSW 2430
Turn off the Pacific Highway at the Taree South exit taking the Old Bar exit and follow Old Bar Road for 900 metres.  The property is on the left hand side.
  • See where we grow over 200 varieties of seeds and 500 varieties of nursery plants propagated onsite.
  • Take advantage of over 70 years horticultural experience on the day.
  • Self Guided Tour. An excellent experience plus an opportunity to take a rest and enjoy the gardens we have developed.
10am – Farm Tour including orchards, herb & flower gardens, nursery production & vegetable seed cropping.
11am – Bee keeping. Anna & Sven from Amber Drop Honey are local environmentally minded bee keepers passionate to share their wisdom. Workshop information is to be confirmed.
12pm - Lunch will be served for a gold coin donation. BBQ - German Sausages, Vegetarian options & Salad. Tea & Coffee provided. Enjoy the music from ‘Dingo Creek String Band’
12.45pm – 2pm Plant Propagation workshop covering the basics of Seed Raising, Divisions & Cuttings. Neville a horticulturalist has been propagating plants in a commercial setting since the late 1970’s so he will be teaching you from his own experiences.
All Day – The nursery and shop will be open from 10am to 2pm if you would like to purchase seeds and plants or seek gardening advice.
Biocast+ with Lee Fieldhouse from Islands in the Stream will also be available all day with his wealth of knowledge. He will also have his Biocast+ products available on the day.
Coming? RSVP to carpool there
Organiser: Leela O'Callaghan gardenvisits@bellingenseedsavers.com or phone 0417 536 490

November - What Bug is That?

Sunday November 18, 1pm - 4pm  and address unknown for web rsvp

In November we visit Tricia's garden in Brierfield, which is a delightful setting for a Q&A gathering, despite the lack of vegie garden action.

Start collecting your questions and specimens. Our resident entomologist Debbie will be identifying your bugs! Bring them in sealed containers only, we don't want them to spread.

Also bring your gardening questions to share with the group. Together we can find you some answers.

RSVP not available yet.

Sunday 30 September 2018

Why Seed Save - Three Stories

"This bean was given to me by a very charismatic seed saver who led a lively workshop at the recent skill swap that I attended & taught at.
He shared some very interesting points about why it is important to save your own seeds:
* Every seed has a story to tell & can preserve history if the story is told.
* Cultivars that are descended from plants grown in an area are adapted to the micro-climate of that area.
* Being dependent on seeds suppliers that are hundreds of miles away is NOT food security.
* It is fun and can save you money!" bobbingobli.tumblr.com


"Thanks to Seed Savers, Glass Gem Corn Exists

by Robin Shreeves
This stunning, multi-colored corn is real and edible, and its seeds are now in high demand. It’s a good thing someone spent time saving the seeds over the generations when the variety was out of our collective consciousness.

What is Glass Gem corn? It’s an old variety of corn with kernels that come in an absolutely stunning array of colors. It’s also a reminder that there are varieties of fruits and vegetables that we’re in danger of losing, and it would be a real shame if we lost them…"

(read more: MNN)
photograph by gnotalex/flickr 


"The Roughwood Seed Collection, which now comprises about 4,000 varieties of heirloom
food plants, was begun informally in 1932 by my grandfather H. Ralph Weaver (1896-1956). During the Great Depression, when food was scarce for many households, he set out to feed his family from a one-acre plot in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Since he had been working on the Weaver family genealogy, my grandfather used his Lancaster County family connections to acquire heirloom seeds that had been grown in the Dutch Country for many generations. His passion for rare old-time varieties snowballed so that by the 1940s he managed to create one of the finest kitchen gardens in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Among the many frequent visitors to his garden was West Chester folk artist Horace Pippin from whom he acquired many rare peppers. 
 My grandfather’s untimely death brought an abrupt end to his chapter of the Roughwood Seed Collection story. 

Some 10 years later, while a student at the University of Virginia, I discovered his seed collection at the bottom of my grandmother’s deep freezer. My grandfather knew that by freezing seeds they could be kept for a long time, so by this stroke of luck, many of his most valuable seeds were still viable when I began to tinker with them. By the mid-1970s I brought most of his original garden back under cultivation."

See also http://diygabl.tumblr.com/post/how-to-save-your-own-garden-seeds-guide

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Seed Labelling for the Spring Plant Fair

Once our seeds are packed we gather again on another day to label the seeds. As always we share a meal, plants, seeds and growing tips.

Monday 10 September 2018


From: plantyhamchuk


“The study found the Sierra Mixe corn obtains 28 to 82 percent of its nitrogen from the atmosphere. To do this, the corn grows a series of aerial roots. Unlike conventional corn, which has one or two groups of aerial roots near its base, the nitrogen-fixing corn develops eight to ten thick aerial roots that never touch the ground.

During certain times of the year, these roots secrete a gel-like substance, or mucilage. The mucilage provides the low-oxygen and sugar-rich environment required to attract bacteria that can transform nitrogen from the air into a form the corn can use.

“Our research has demonstrated that the mucilage found in this Sierra Mixe corn forms a key component of its nitrogen fixation,“ said co-author Jean-Michel AnĂ©, professor of agronomy and bacteriology in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at UW–Madison. “We have shown this through growth of the plant both in Mexico and Wisconsin.”

“ Researchers are a long way from developing a similar nitrogen-fixing trait for commercial corn, but this is a first step to guide further research on that application. The discovery could lead to a reduction of fertilizer use for corn, one of the world’s major cereal crops. It takes 1 to 2 percent of the total global energy supply to produce fertilizer. The energy-intensive process is also responsible for 1 to 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. “

Why are we stripping our life support systems?

Wednesday 29 August 2018

Seed Packing ready for the Spring Plant Fair, September 8

Click to enlarge: Our seeds available at the Autumn Plant Fair

Over twenty members turned up to pack seeds and share plants at our seed packing working bee.

We will be labelling the seed packets in a weeks time. Volunteers are required to staff our plant stall on September 8.

 As usual we shared a meal at the end of seed-packing although some members had to be persuaded to stop packing.

Tuesday 31 July 2018

Making jam without sugar: using excess fruit

This is a variety of useful recipes plucked from the net for making a jam or spread. There are source credits after the recipes for links to the original sites. There is no need to do without jam just because you are avoiding high energy sweeteners like sugar, honey and various syrups. Please take notice of the recommendations regarding the use by periods.

I boil down our home grown cumquats with only a very small amount of sugar and a little water to make a delicious sauce or runny jam, perhaps I will now try cooking down citrus without any sugar or use stevia to sweeten. Happy experimentation.

Click pictures to enlarge.

Australian Climate Zones

Climate Zones

"Australia has a wide range of climates from the wet tropics to cool temperate climates and it is important to consider your climate when selecting trees that will be best suited to your area so they will thrive and be productive once planted. This map from the Organic Gardener Magazine is an excellent example of a climate map that will help you to understand what type of climate you live in. 

Friday 27 July 2018

July Garden Visit to Tim’s new Food Forest in Fernmount

More than meets the eye in this new Fernmount garden:

Tim and his growing family have been living in what was a vacant block for just over a year now, some of you may be familiar with it as the former 'Secret Garden' nursery. Lots of planning, passion and effort has netted him a food forest, jumping out of the ground out and proud, in the front yard. An unorthodox style, but then a little chaos always brings opportunity.

Around the back there is more experimentation and innovation with livestock and microclimates; endless fun and education for his kids.

Inspirational! Tim has a lot of plans and ideas and thankfully for him and his family, also the energy of a kelpie to make them happen. In just under a year he has moved a house onto an empty plot, moved the family in, cleared a creekbed, set up chickens, sheep and a pig run, and planted out the entire front area as a baby food forest that's easy to mow around.

What grows well, grows well and what's too fussy is left behind. Tim had a bunch of ways of propagating that don't waste time. The easiest way to plant a tomato is to get a ripe one and squish it into the ground where you'd like more to grow.

We saw a broadfork in action - it's a giant garden fork that's more effective and more efficient for aerating or turning over new ground.

We were introduced to a bunch of fertiliser ideas. Throw the manure in with the chickens to scratch up, eat the seeds and break down. Give the scraps to the pig.

Home grown popping corn and a table groaning with cakes were very much enjoyed too.

Thanks to Jeff for all our photos.
Using a Broadfork
Liquid Gold
Seedsavers see Tim's new banana plantings
Using the popping corn harvest

Friday 20 July 2018

Download. Buy. The 3-book series "Lost Crops of Africa"

The 3-book series "Lost Crops of Africa" (Volumes I, II and III on Grains, Vegetables, and Fruits, published in 1996, 2006 and 2008, respectively) is a treasure for us all, but especially for the African continent, with the hope it presents of growing food security for its 1 billion people!

Thursday 5 July 2018

Winter Solstice Visit to David's garden

Edible flowers (rose and basil) on edible goodies

Citrus time in the Bellingen Valley

David in his garden.

Thursday 14 June 2018

Michelle's Valla garden

What a treat!
This very young back yard garden is clearly in expert hands and already highly productive, neat and beautiful. We marvelled at the outlook (the sea is just in view), and the astonishing amount of work and careful hand weeding that has obviously happened in a short amount of time.

We enjoyed a typically abundant seed savers shared lunch out on the balcony admiring Michelle's garden and getting inspired.

Thanks for hosting us for lunch Michelle, your garden astonished us all, in the best possible way.


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