7 April 2022

Bega gardener helps cultivate new seed savers group in Snowy Monaro

| Albert McKnight
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Harvested sunflowers

Recently harvested sunflowers dry out before they can be harvested to extract the seeds. Photo: Liz Worth.

Whether you’ve got green thumbs or a love of gardening and tasty vegetables, there’s many reasons to get involved in seed saving – and a new community initiative will help people in the Snowy Monaro do just that.

The Snowy Monaro Seed Savers aims to bring together local gardeners to build seed libraries across its region.

“Much like the popular Little Free Library project, seed libraries allow our community to swap seeds, with a long-term vision to see these libraries grow to share veggies, bulbs, native plants and more,” Snowy Monaro Regional Council said.

Liz Worth from the Bega Valley Seed Savers, a well-established seed library network that works to protect and improve heritage food seeds and plants, will facilitate an introductory seed collecting workshop this month for the Snowy Monaro group.

She said seeds that come from seed savers had “way better performance” and good germination rates.

Ms Worth said benefits of seed saving included having a much greater variety of seeds and these varieties were more useful for home growers, not commercial growers.

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For example, she said, commercial tomatoes had to look nice and be firm enough to transport, but if you are picking your own tomatoes in your backyard you can have types that are softer and more luscious.

Also, Ms Worth said the seeds come from the local area so they are adapted to the local climate and soils

“And you get to chat with people about what it tastes like and how you cook it, which is more than you get on the back of a packet,” she said.

She said seed saving was increasing in popularity, with a number of groups emerging around the country.

Her Bega Valley group has been going for about 20 years and had around 120 varieties, although the types changed from year to year, ranging from beetroots, beans and broccoli to carrots, capsicums and chilis.


A carrot shows its white flowers, with its central head ready to pick for seed. Photo: Liz Worth.

Ms Worth said the best way to get started in seed saving was to “just start growing vegetables and have an interest”.

Council said the seed savers project aims to help the Snowy Monaro find and connect to its local plant heritage through varieties handed down through families and friends, as well as provide access to locally grown and saved seeds adapted to its local climate and soil.

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The Snowy Monaro Seed Savers’ introductory session will be held at the Bombala Community Centre, Bombala, on 30 April from 10 am to 12:30 pm.

It will cover when and how to collect seeds, organise swaps and manage a local library.

Bring a notebook, pen and ideas. Morning tea will be provided for free.

To book a place at the workshop, email [email protected] by 23 April.

To find local seed saver groups, click here.

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