About Bellingen Seedsavers

We are a group of like-minded growers of 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.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Seedsavers Talks at the Centre for Ecological Learning Open Day in Bellingen

Seedsavers Erik and John were happy to support this event. The Centre for Ecological Learning is the Incorporated 'mother ship' for Bellingen Seedsavers.

Erik presented on Gathering and Saving Seeds and John presented on Edible Perennials to small but appreciative groups.

Learn more about the Centre for Ecological Learning

Charlie's subtropical garden at Thora.

On Sunday 13th November we visited our friend Charlies' beautiful tropical gardens and home in Thora.

It is highly productive garden and Charlie very comfortably lives of this land. His daughter sells a lot of his produce (turmeric, ginger, nuts, fruit) at the markets in Newcastle to provide nourishment to the city people and to generate income. 

Charlie and Karin were fantastic hosts on this very warm summers day. Charlie has lived here since the seventies and raised his family here. His children have grown up and flown the coop, but  his garden and his impressive collections of productive and ornamental trees and plants have kept on growing and keep on feeding his extended family.

Charlie has created a series of garden rooms and continues to expand. He uses permaculture and biodynamic principles and does most of the work by hand. While walking us through the garden he talked us through what tasks he was going to do in the next few days… and it was a list so long that less driven and enthusiastic people would take at least a month to get anywhere close. It was an inspiring day in an inspiring garden.

We drank many cups of tea and ate healthy and delicious food, as always we swapped plant material and seeds and a lot of good growing advice. A great day, thank you Charlie and Karin!
Report by Erik

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Visiting Leela's 'manor' garden on the Dorrigo plateau

Our October gathering was held in Dorrigo at Leela's "manor".

Take one bare paddock of a couple of acres. Add an owner built house, a few permaculture principles, loads of ideas and enthusiasm and six years. It's not a bare paddock any more.

We enjoyed the company of some ruminants, chickens, unsighted foxes and amorous ducks while we were given a guided tour of the remaining 'paddock' areas soon to be citrus orchard, the netted fruit tree orchard with grafting experiments, the fenced vegie garden, the hothouse attached to the house (complete with geriatric chook) growing a banana plant in Dorrigo(!) and the new deck with terrific eastern views over the entire manor estate.

Inside the conservatory

The netted orchard

Banana plant growing in the conservatory in a plateau climate

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Perennial food plants - what are you growing in your garden?

Kang Kong growing in pond in Bellinger River Valley
We are putting together a resource on perennial food plants that grow well in this area. This is for ourselves and the wider community.

Can you email in the perennial food plants that you have growing in your garden, along with where you are (Dorrigo's climate is different to Sawtell's!)? We will list the plants and the area they are growing in on the website. We WON'T be listing your names.

Send the info to news@bellingenseedsavers.com

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Bellingen Plant Fair- Our Bellingen Seed Savers Stall

Bellingen Seed Savers had their usual stall at the Spring Bellingen Plant Fair. It was very successful as usual.

Fi is selling our huge range of locally grown and packaged seeds.

We spreading the word about Okinawa Spinach, how easily it grows and how useful it is.

We even had some large cuttings of Moringa. I haven't yet seen the flowers grow into fruit in our semitropical/warm temperate climate.
If you are local and interested in attending our gatherings use the contact link at the bottom of our home page.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Okinawa Spinach Growing Information

This tasty vegetable grows very easily in the Bellingen Valley. It is a little cold sensitive. Protect from frosts.  Share cuttings with friends.
Green Harvest has plants.

From the Green Harvest catalogue 

© Frances Michaels

BOTANICAL NAME:Gynura crepioides
COMMON NAMES: Okinawa spinach, Hong tsoi, Okinawa lettuce
FAMILY: Asteraceae
ORIGIN: Native to Indonesia

Okinawa Spinach is a dense, low growing plant to 70 cm high. Easily the most low maintenance perennial leaf vegetable; it is a hardy plant and relatively pest-free. Thriving in warm, wet conditions Okinawa Spinach does best in subtropical and tropical areas; it is sensitive to frost. An attractive plant with shiny leaves that are green on top and purple underneath; the flowers are very small and orange. It grows best in full sun to partial shade. It needs ample water, rich, fertile well-drained soil that is kept mulched and prefers a pH of between 6.1 and 6.5.


  • Food: It is a very nutritious vegetable, eaten raw or cooked. The leaves and young shoot tips are steamed, used in stir fry, tempura, stews, and soups. Try not to overcook it as it can become slimy. The leaves have a crisp, nutty taste with a faint hint of pine. In Okinawa the leaves are often fried and served as tempura. It can also be steamed with rice if it is added for the last 7 minutes of cooking time. This leafy green is also known as cholesterol spinach, and there are many claims that it lowers cholesterol. Young leaves have a much better flavour than the older leaves.
  • Edible Landscaping: The vivid leaf colour makes this a good choice as a background plant in ornamental beds. Okinawa Spinach can be used in landscaping as a groundcover in full sun (with enough water) or it does well in partial shade. It is very adaptable to container gardening and hanging baskets and will grow inside on a windowsill with good light.
  • Recommended Planting Time: Cuttings are best taken when the soil temperature is at least 25°C. Rooting the cutting in water before planting will improve results. The plant responds well to pruning, rapidly becoming bushy. Pruning also prolongs its life.
  • Planting Depth: Cuttings 10 - 20 cm long should be half buried in potting mix and kept moist.
  • Spacing: Space plants at 60 cm apart.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Fermenting Workshop at Bellingen Community Gardens August 18,2016

Leela's sauerkraut demonstration

After the fermentation demonstrations we planned and shared seeds.

Jeff's yummy kombucha

Jeff recommended the Grow Youthful Australian website for fermentation details and a starter plant. Go to Kombucha

Jeff explains the kombucha process (fermenting tea, sugar and water).

Leela's improvised sauerkraut fermenting jar with her commercial fermenting jar.
Making sauerkraut is a method to preserve vegetables as well as making a healthy food.

Leela also demonstrated the process of making milk kefir just by leaving milk to ferment.

Lunch, important at all of our events.

Nell's stir fry makes good use of all of her vegetable garden. It made a pleasant warm picnic salad.

Rae's carrot cake is always in demand

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Pics from July 2016 Seed Savers Packing Day at Nell's

Wow. What a successful seed packing day! Together we cleaned and bagged 410 packs of seeds; these are now ready for labelling at our next gathering. We also had the pleasure of some new faces... helloooo! Hope you enjoyed the day and that you will be back.

Not only that, but we cleaned an additional 490 bags of seeds; these can be bagged and labelled later as required.

Many thanks to everyone who supplied seeds and helped at the workshop on 17th July 2016 and special thanks to Nell Hayden for her delicious soups and bread that fueled us all for the entire afternoon.

Do you have any of these seeds to share?

Our seeds stocks are quite good now, but a few plants are in still in short supply: tomatoes (any local varieties), rock melons, zucchini’s, egg plants (long varieties, and large purple) and sweet corn. Jeff would love to hear from you if you do:

Morning Tea

Potting up plants

Viewing Nell's garden

Packing seeds

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Why Seeds Should Remain a Public Good


"Seeds are the source of our food. Through seeds, farmers across the world earn a living.

And yet, three multinational companies hold over 50% of global agricultural seeds. They control the sale of these seeds and therefore our food.

We urgently need to raise awareness to the problems caused by the monopoly of agricultural seeds and highlight the importance of biodiversity."

Tuesday, 2nd August 2016

See the video

Naïma Pollet
Diploma project
HEAD – Geneva

Sunday, 31 July 2016

New Report Debunks 'Myth' That GMOs are Key to Feeding the World

Published on
Study upholds value of traditional methods 'shown to actually increase food supplies and reduce the environmental impact of production'
About 70 percent of the world's poor are farmers, and to raise them out of poverty requires access to basic resources such as fertilizer, water, and the infrastructure to properly store or transport crops to market—not expensive, resource-intensive GMO seeds. (Credit: La Montañita Co-op)

Friday, 8 July 2016

Visit to David 's garden on the winter solstice

Imagine a food forest providing you with fruit and nuts and vegetables and herbs all year round. This is what happens in David's food forest in his beautiful patch of the Promised Land. The food forest is maturing, his passion is translating into an ever expanding and inspirational garden. He showed us new areas of food forest, and explained how you can work from the trees down or from the mulched ground up. 
His newest addition is a dedicated Healing garden, filled with an assortment of herbs that work in the healing of Lyme's disease. David shared has vision of a Sauna being built, and he has made the space available for all to participate and help make it a reality. The first stack of bricks have "emerged" ready for the build. The space he's allocated is a peaceful place surrounded by a hedge of Vetiver grass on one side and Elder berry bushes on the other side. He invites all interested to contribute ideas and materials and labour and love, so this plan too will come into reality. 
We celebrated the winter solstice around an open fire and with an abundance of beautiful food. David's last season's summer hat was ritually burnt and we were "cleansed" with burning herbs that were passed around. Good conversation and good cheer. David's winter and summer solstice gatherings are becoming quite the tradition with us and his other friends. Thanks David for being your loveable self and sharing your garden  and inspiration with all of us! 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Visit to Jodi and Michael's 'Cloudy Farm' at Dorrigo

'Cloudy Cauldron' is beautifully located on the Dorrigo Plateau.

"The Cloudy Cauldron" is a working farm, with a focus on supplying fruit and vegies to the local area. Jodi and Michael have landscaped on a grand scale, drawing on their farming backgrounds and extensive knowledge to create an edible wonderland that still has room for frivolity and flowers.
We have visited this near Dorrigo site before and it is always exciting to see new developments made by the industrious couple. 
This visit is Mid Autumn although climate change has meant a very unseasonable hot autumn. The day was wet and breezy.
The new poly-tunnel held climbing beans, cucumbers and more
Dorrigo Seedsavers joined us for the day.

A freezer converted to a worm farm

Seedlings produced in a poly-tunnel

Quinces favour the Dorrigo plateau climate

Did she get lost at the last visit?

A healthy bed of Comfrey feeds the soil when composted.

The 'Kiwi Fruit' was laden.

Beds are mulched to prevent sun scorching and erosion from heavy rain.
Grown in a protected area this North American Paw Paw is hard to find in Australia

Turkeys are new to the farm.

Finishing with a morning tea. We try to demonstrate recipes for what we produce.


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