Michel & Jude Fanton

Michel and Jude Fanton founded The Seed Savers’ Network in Australia in 1986. It quickly attracted national attention. In 1992 they began to take the message of the need to conserve traditional varieties of food plants to over forty other countries. In 2014-15 they are focussing on tours of South America and Eastern Europe.

Michel is French by birth and so has really sharp taste buds. Only fresh, dense flavours satisfy his palate. A polymath, Michel can turn a hand to anything, but is most content when gardening  – harvesting, pruning, planting, raking, watering, even mowing the grass in between the 900 perennials in the Seed Gardens in Byron Bay. He is second most happy when filming tribal cultures in gardens in exotic locations.

Jude was born near several apricot and almond trees in South Australia. Taste buds sharpened by fresh fruit and wild foods, Jude’s culinary skills really only came into their own through cooking with Michel. She is second most content teaching how to think clearly and appreciate life, read nature and enjoy all aspects of food. Jude is happiest rootling about in the vegie garden, lost in thought, wild harvesting and travelling with Michel.

Jude & Michel Fanton
Jude & Michel Fanton
Greece, Paranesti village, at Peliti Seed Exchange, May 2013

Organisational structure

The Seed Savers Network is the operational name under which Jude and Michel Fanton conduct their outreach work.

When they are not overseas teaching and learning, Jude and Michel live in splendid abundance at their Garden of Plenty, and receive a very small cash income from book sales, donations, and the occasional stipend or speakers’ fee.

The Seed Savers Foundation is a registered DGR and is the legal owner of any assets of the Network. Membership on the Foundation is by invitation only. Annual meetings are held in Byron Bay.


Our Foundation and Board

The Seed Savers’ Network was founded in 1986. It was a trust for the first fourteen years, and became a foundation in 2000. The Seed Savers Foundation Ltd is registered in Australia as a charity. It is governed by a board and audited each year.
The members of the board are Lindsay Smith MoirJude FantonJerry Coleby-Williams and Caroline Lloyd.

Lindsay1st Director – Lindsay Smith Moir

Since 1996 Lindsay has been the accountant for Seed Savers. He specialises in charitable biodiversity and Permaculture entities.

Jude2nd Director – Jude Fanton

Jude loves to collect wild mushrooms, here Macrolepiota procera (Agaricaceae) that tastes like chicken, these gathered in cow paddocks in Autumn.

Jerry3rd Director – Jerry Coleby-Williams

My life and work can best be outlined using the fundamental and overlapping ethics of organic growing:
1 Stewardship of the Earth That is, working for and caring for all things, both living and non-living, including soil, water, air, and both wild and cultivated biodiversity;
2 Care of humanity Working for the sustainable provision of clean air, clean water, healthy soil, nutritious and affordable food, sound education, rewarding employment, all in a non-exploitative way that also allows people to improve the environment, their homes, and their lives;
3 Re-investing knowledge and skills By re-investing my knowledge and skills using my spare time, money and energy I aim to support sustainability through the stewardship of the Earth and care of humanity, to build capacity, and to enable others to follow suit, thereby strengthening these two ethics within and between the horticultural and conservation communities.
As an executive member of Queensland Conservation, I have helped initiate the ‘Grow Local’ community project aimed at sound nutrition, local employment, farmland conservation, and transition past peak oil. Through QC I sit on the Queensland Sustainable Agriculture committee, and the Brisbane City Council ‘City Smart’ committee, and I have been actively advocating the inclusion of Soil Carbon Sequestration in the federal government’s Carbon Trading Scheme.
I am an active advocate and participate in Guerilla Gardening, having established the Brisbane wing of this international gardening movement. I am currently a patron of the Australia & New Zealand Solar Energy Society.

CassyCaroline (Cassy) Lloyd

I’m the odd one out with no credentials in organics or Permaculture but, like many of us, I have a keen interest!
Hopefully my life’s experiences qualify me as a suitable ‘woMan Friday’ to the energetic duo of Jude n’ Michel. Background? UK and Australian teacher, then manager of real estate, residential aged care, VIP student care, historical buildings restoration, licensed live music venue, restaurateur … phew … now happily retired!
Since arriving in Byron Bay 1995 I’ve observed how The Seed Savers’ Network has grown and evolved from a locally based hands-on direct-contact approach to a dynamic web-based global network. The world is gradually catching on to the importance of sustainability and Jude n’ Michel’s brilliant expertise.
Their phone rings every week with requests from grass root societies, conference organisers and aid agencies … both local and global, all wanting to hear Jude n’ Michel ‘s message … delivered in their own distinctive style, ‘naturellement’!

Friends & Supporters

Bill Mollison & SeedSavers since 1986: Bill died peacefully in Hobart Tasmania

Permaculture’s founder Bill Mollison lived in Tasmania with his wife Lisa near the fishing village where he was born Stanley. He left us nine days after we spend two days with him in Hobart when he was in high care. Bill continued been curious about all things, writing,  gardening, reading new scientific books, and publishing with Tagari. Here Bill found something of interest in a tree nearby as a picture was been taken with Lisa, and seedsavver’s founders Michel and Jude Fanton. Bill was instrumental in founding a seed network for locally adapted useful Permaculture plants. One evening in 1985 before we registered seedsavers Bill wanted to be the settlor on our Trust so he put five dollars note in between two slices of bread, put that in a bag and hanged it to the fireplace. He famously said: “If the money devalue at least you have something to eat.” Bill spent countless evening in our garden shack that was our home telling of his amazing Permaculture travels and inspiring us to start seedsavers. We are very grateful to him for his inspiration and his Lisa to do what she does to spread the concept worldwide.

Bill Mollison passed away peacefully in Tasmania.

Bill was such a big part of our family and our children. Jude and Michel Fanton the founder of SeedSavers Network and Foundation visited him overnight two weeks ago in Hobart Tasmania. “We had laughters, smiled, hugs, gave soft feet massages, food, home made perfumes to sniff, (Neroli Huile Antique and Sandal wood extractions).  We also cried together on our last day with him.” “Bill recalled finding ambergris in Stanley floating to the beach. he show its size with his hands. One white and one grew one.” We miss you dearest Bill.

Alan Mordens “gives back” with Give peas a chance.

Alan Morden executive at Satchi n’ Satchi and his artist wife Denise gave seedsavers their best when they designed our logo (look up top of our page!). Alan discovered the now famous poster “Give Peas a Chance” in our archives, it was a banner painted on a french linen bed sheet would you believe. He says” that is it go no further. Everyone loved it. Amy Glastonbury was our star volunteer. We miss both. If you too like to give us an hour and your years of your professional experience please contact me Michel@seedsavers.net   We won’t ever forget you. Merci d’avance

Alfredo Bonanno: prolific illustrator

Luffa grown and drawn by Illustrator Alfredo Bonanno

Alfredo grew all the plants so he had a life model to draw the hundreds of illustrations for the Seed Savers Handbook. It was a patient work of love where Alfredo spend more than 18 months to complete the projects: the plants dictated the rhythm. Thank you Alfredo to have helped make our book a success.

Dorothy banana collection: 110 varieties premature death

banana curator

Dorothy Tamasia, 19 collected and replanted in her school in the island of Makira, Solomon Islands. She died off Malaria living a day walk from a clinic. She left two young children and a husband.She traveled by food and canoes to different village clinics who centralised the banana suckers and kept for Dorothy. She also travelled by foot to make made a collection of highland varieties in her village. She learned how to describe the varieties and kept records. Her vocational vocational school was also a duplication site in  the isolated place called Manivovo girl training centre. we met Dorothy when she was an intern student at the kastom garden association in Honiara Solomon islands. The collection was part of a grant that seed savers distributed to small biodiversity projects. Dorothy we are missing you.

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.

Dr Liz multi talents at work

Down to earth method of processing seeds

Dr Liz Elliot multi talented medical practitioner. She produced a few hundred illustrations in a very short space of time. Seedsavers is very grateful for her kind and pro-bono contribution to Seed To Seeds: Food Gardens in Schools. Because of her background and practice in a wide number of countries Dr Liz draw as the authors conceptualize the book content, and has been able to put the just right kind of graphic information. It does not only support the text written by Jude Fanton and Jo Imming but she stir the direction content of the book to a very caring ambiance from the medic she is at heart and in practice. Thank you Liz!

Dr. Vanaja Ramprasad

Dr. Vanaja in Seed Savers seed bank

We met Vanaja at a seed meeting with Vandana in Inida and we became friends. She invited us to be leading a course on establishing community seed banks in Karnataka State and Tamil Nadu. She come to visit us in Byron Bay. Dr Vanaja RamprasadVanaja founded the GREEN Foundation in the 1980s in Bangalore to work with marginal and tribal farmers on conserving traditional dryland cereals and pulses. They have many projects and collaborations with other organisations and have attracted international attention to their work. For more information on GREEN Foundation see http://www.greenconserve.com

Jose Luzenberger

Christian Watts – Web Developer

Christian came aboard in late 2013 to create the new Seed Savers website, complete with a social network system to facilitate the Local Seed Networks, Forums, Shop and new layout. Chris’ background is in photography, design, web development and tech consultancy. contact chris via otorongo.digital@gmail.com

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