Monthly Archives: August 2014

Seed Freedom Festival in Adelaide September 27th

Jude and Michel shared stories with the thousands attending The Seed Freedom Festival in Adelaide on September 27th, 2014, and gave a two and a half hour workshop as a lead-in to the annual gathering of the Permaculture Association of SA at Glandore Community Garden on Sunday 21st September.


Dorothy village visionary in Makira

Collecting banana varieties and species rare and endangered was Dorothy’s passion. She lived with husband a bush carpenter and their children in the island of Makira in a highland small  and isolated village named Bagohane, five hour walk from coast as there is no possibility of road in excessively steep highlands. At 19 she organised several collections of banana in her old Vocational Training School in Manivivo an isolated costal hamlet. Her own birth village has one collection and another village higher in the hills was the site of yet another collection. When Michel visited, Dorothy had collected 115 varieties by canoe and by walking everywhere. She was a fun loving carefree village girl with a vision inspired by the taro collection that SeedSavers funded with the help of the Flow Fund. She died at 35 we don’t know yet how. Communications are very difficult. I read the the island mobile tower was not functioning. The photo was taken while Dorothy and Otto from Bougainville crossed a river in Makira Island as all the people from villages in the highlands do when they go to market on the coast.


Dorothy Tasmasia, banana diversity curator dies in Makira Island

We met Dorothy when she was a hight school student in Honiara, The Solomon Islands. She became an intern at the Kastom Garden Association. Then we visited her in her island village where she has made two collections of local bananas: one in her school and one in her highland village one day walk from the coast via a small forest track. In the picture in Geneflow photo she was in her bush kitchen.


WIKIPEDIA Entry needs doing

SeedSavers needs help. We are after one very kind person who is familiar with adding content to Wikipedia to start a Wiki entry for The Seed Savers’ Network. Michel has tried but was rejected by Wiki moderators/editors as they are too close to the organisation (as founders) to be allowed to talk about the organisation they started and are the principals. Local Seed Network members and coordinator are able to. Anyone who has done this before is needed.  When the original entry is done other people, anyone in fact is entitled to complete any entry, correct it, add to it, add references,  footnotes etc as it happens in the Wiki world. Watch SeedSavers A Retrospective on ABC TV GA, 6.30 or Saturday Aug 9th or later on IView videos on demand. Episode 21 show recent interviews of Michel and Jude with Jerry Coleby-Williams and replays 1987 ABC footage and some footage from “Our Seeds” a doco produced by SeedSavers in 11 countries and translated in a number of languages including Russian dubbing last month.  “Michel and Jude Fanton” the name, yields 32 pages of results on Google so there is plenty of references out there, 3 books, tonnes of references in dozen of books, and about the 28 years old organisation, yet the organisation have no entry on Wikipedia. So far. Until someone enters one. Thank you for helping, you the very busy person with a bit of time for SeedSavers. There are things Jude and Michel cannot do by themselves nor should they. So they are grateful for a person to do that badly needed entry on Wikipedia. BTW Michel and Jude Fanton also need a personal entry on Wikipedia.


Jeremy Coleby-Williams: Why save seeds?

In Byron Bay in NSW, a garden has been developed that contains a diversity of useful and edible plants. In many ways these plants represent a gift from generations of gardeners who have saved the seeds from year to year. A seed is a message from the past and a promise for the future.

This garden is supported by many volunteers from across the country, and combined has one of the best educational gardens in Australia. Michel Fanton was born in France and continues a family tradition of saving seeds. His partner Jude Fanton shares this passion, and from this common ideal they gave life to the Seed Savers Network in Byron Bay. The garden and its volunteers became a thriving community.

There is an amazing variety of vegetables in catalogues of over a hundred years ago. Supermarkets today have an apparent abundance, but this seeming cornucopia of variety has been gathered from a large collective of growers who grow for perfect appearance. In the search for perfection in modern fruit and vegetables there is a question that the nutritional value of these foods has been lost. There is now a saying that it takes “nine apples a day to keep the doctor away”.

The development of food plants can be represented by a ladder; plants on the bottom rung are the unimproved wild species utilised by ancient man and contained the widest genetic variability that will ever exist. The top rung represents modern hybrid crops that are undoubtedly productive, but with limited resistance to pests and diseases. Plants on the middle rung are old varieties that can be saved as seed at home; they are adaptable, resilient and diverse. So conservation by seed saving keeps options open.

All that is required to save seed is some patience. By allowing plants to go to seed the fruit is left to remain on the bush to mature, developing into seed. This is what would happen as a matter of course in nature, but as productive gardeners we collect and eat, or preserve all fruit that a plant bears. Plants will look untidy in the garden when they are left to mature, but this must be accepted if seeds are to be collected. Plants must consciously be kept from being harvested so that they can be grown especially for seed to continue the cycle of planting and growing the same varieties year after year.

The skill of seed saving, particularly of vegetables, was being lost, and was of concern to Michel and Jude, and was the reason why they decided to set up a national Seed Saver’s Network. They could see the need to rejuvenate this skill to prevent valuable varieties being lost forever. They set up the business about eighteen years ago, when seed patenting laws were being put in place that was another small step that gave more control to forces outside of Australia. It was also the reason why they decided to become a national seed saving network, rather than a local one. To do this they were encouraged greatly by the founder of permaculture in Australia, Bill Mollison, and set about sourcing seeds from all around Australia. A national request for seed from traditional varieties resulted in an unexpected response, which meant that they needed to set up a recording and system and seed bank. The seed was then packaged and redistributed by a team of volunteers.

Michel and Jude began growing some of these varieties in their own garden to learn how to grow them and to find out what they were like. They are particular about keeping the seeds of plants that offer more nutrition and that grow well in Australian gardens.

Seeds represent millennia of wise and considered decisions. The survival of particular varieties of plants depends entirely on the everyday choices that home gardeners make. Seeds bring communities together, and this long history of saving seeds goes back to when mankind were hunters and gatherers. By continuing this tradition in our gardens we are practicing this old tradition of planting from seed to seed.

Information contained in this fact sheet is a summary of material included in the program. If further information is required, please contact your local nursery or garden centre.



ABC TV Gardening Australia Sat 9th

We heard on the grape vine, that The Australian ABC TV have interviewed Michel and Jude Fanton. Now the ABC will broadcast “A retrospective of Seed Savers Network” this Saturday (Aug 9th!) episode 21. Never mind  that the couple have missed the TV train, so far they have not invested in a Black and White TV, let alone not a wide screen TV. ahhhhh…The couple will eventually catch up with the programme on their computer screen through the so called ABC IWiew aka “video on demand”.

We hear on the same grape vine that the ABC has used some of the footage of SeedSavers film doco “Our Seeds” Also they will broadcast some of the ABC 1987 archival footage on SeedSavers on episode 21. If you are apart of a Local Seed Network you know that you can register and that it is free of cost. No dosh changes hands. Interviewer is Jeremy Coleby-Williams.