Bellingen Seed Savers formed in late 2008 and continues to grow and thrive. We are edible gardening enthusiasts who grow food plants, save seeds and share these plants, seeds and the gardening knowledge we have learned along the way. Our aim is to ensure a reliable source of delicious, nutritious food into the future by growing healthy plants, saving the locally adapted seeds and sharing them around our community.
We care about seed heritage. We seek to both locate and develop open pollinated seeds and plants that grow well in this area, whether handed down through generations of local growers or brought in from elsewhere and adapted to our conditions. Many commercial seed suppliers have less and less of the old varieties and gardeners are more likely to rely on hybrid seeds which need to be purchased each year. The seeds are bred to mature all at the same times to reduce the harvest period and to withstand travelling long distances. We need our crops to ripen over time and travel no further than to the kitchen.
Now that’s local food!
We are based in the Bellingen area, on the mid north coast of NSW, Australia. Our ‘members’ grow their own food in Dorrigo, Megan, Bellingen, Gleniffer, Fernmount, Brierfield, Urunga, Coffs Harbour, Emerald Beach & Coramba and places in between.
We cover a range of climates. Coffs Harbour is subtropical and coastal. Bellingen is in a river valley and subtropical-warm temperate. Dorrigo is inland and 1km up on a mountain plateau with a proper cold winter, with frosts! For this reason we label where our seeds have been grown and will be adapted to.
There is no formal membership of Bellingen Seed Savers. It’s casual and welcoming, and organised! We hold monthly-ish gatherings where we drink a lot of tea, eat a lot of homemade cake (and soup in winter), swap plant material, seeds and edible gardening tips, and meet like minded gardeners of all levels of experience. Some of us have been growing food in this area for 30 years. Some of us are renting and just trying to keep some herbs alive in pots.
The gatherings usually involve a visit to the garden of a local seed saver. Twice a year we have seed packing days to package up the seeds we have all collected for distribution. We have a stall at the twice yearly Bellingen Plant Fair where we offer a variety of seeds grown in our gardens and packaged under our name. Sometimes we have workshop learning days with local or visiting experts, sometimes we’ll watch a film, sometimes we’ll organise a trip out to visit a unique property further afield.
If you share our aims and enthusiasms, you’re welcome to join us. The best way to do this is to sign up to the mailing list (bottom of every page & centre home page) and then you’ll be notified of upcoming gatherings.
This seed saver group was gathered and steered for 8 years by Irene Wallin with help from David Wallin. It was a Transition Bellingen project. In 2016 when Irene decided it was time to step down and rest we needed a group of people to step in to do her job.
Now we are part of CEL – the Centre for Ecological Learning in Bellingen who also run Bellingen EYE (Environmental Youth Experience), the Bellingen Community & High School Garden, the Young Naturalists Club, Deep Ecology retreats and workshops, Transition Bellingen workshops and events as well as hosting Permaculture trainings and environmentally themed learning days.