Successful Regional Seed Savers Conference

Thu, 03/06/2010 – Jude Fanton

Castlereagh Seed Savers ran a successful regional conference in Mudgee last weekend, 30th and 31st May 2010. Dennis Grimshaw reported there were over forty people attending. Seven Local Seed Networks were represented: Castlereagh Seed Savers, Leichhardt Seed Savers, Permaculture Southern Highlands Seed Savers, Illawarra Seed Savers, Wollondilly Seed Savers, Permaculture Sydney North Seed Savers, Shoalhaven Seed Savers.
Here is the report in the local newspaper, the Mudgee Guardian.
Seeds of the past and the future as local seed savers meet
BY DARREN SNYDER, 31 May, 2010
The term ‘seed saving’ is something of a misnomer. Castlereagh Seed Savers member Frank Frost believes seed saving has many applications and the process does a lot more than protecting heritage.
“We not only save seeds, we save plants, we save foods and it goes on,” he said. Mr Frost tells a story of one seed saver who has grown over 100 varieties of Sweet Potato.
But why would anyone do that? In short, one variety of Sweet Potato would only need one disease to wipe it out. Also, one variety is not going to grow in every climate.
These were the kinds of questions answered at the Seed Savers conference in Mudgee over the weekend.
The aim of the conference was to raise awareness of genetically modified seeds in pasture, cereals and horticulture as well as updating and educating on saving technique.
Fifth generation Mid-West farmer and Chairman of the Royal Agricultural Society’s Agricultural Committee, Hunter White, said it is important to maintain seed saving because the world is going to have to draw from it for food and other resources.
“One of the challenges we face is the rapid increase of population growth,” he said.
“It is going to put a strain on all the resources we’ve got and basically it is going to be our job to do more with less.”
Mr White also spoke about the battle between the development of hybrid seeds and genetically modified seeds as opposed to heritage seeds.
“In the northern hemisphere a hybrid seed is being used extensively with a crop like maize,” he said.
“But the problem is the seed only lasts one year and offers no diversity. “By growing something unknown you can learn more about it and how it adapts in changing environments.”
This is where Mr Frost believes seed saving can come to the fore, by having the ability to grow a diverse range.
“Many cultures have brought their seeds to Australia and some could grow even better here,” he said.
“There is no reason why we shouldn’t be making the most of seeds from other countries and developing them here.”