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Thoughts/experiences with seed saver groups and seed libraries

Home Forums FOOD PRODUCTION, HARVEST AND STORAGE Vegetables Thoughts/experiences with seed saver groups and seed libraries

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    I have seen a lot of varieties of vegetables disappear from Australia since I was a child and wish that I knew how to help prevent this loss.  Seed saver groups sound like an answer, but we need more.

    What are your thoughts on seed saver groups?  Are they worth starting or are they more trouble than they are worth?  Or is there a better way to preserve and distribute rare vegetable varieties?

    A few years ago I got some reasonably rare vegetable seeds.  I tried to give some to the nearest seed saver group (an hour and a half drive away) and found myself rather disenchanted by them.  Apparently at the time they did not save seeds, they purchased bulk ‘heirloom’ seed and on sold it at cost to members.  I offered to help run seed saving courses to teach/encourage their members to save seed but was told that was not necessary as they could buy more seeds when they ran low.  Speaking to some friends who live in other towns they told me of similar stories of the blind leading the blind. 

    When I looked online and saw the amazing things that were being done by some of the larger, more established seed saver groups.  I think that in Bega they even distribute fruit fly traps to rid the region of fruit fly.  That kind of forward thinking is incredible.

    One of the major issues with seed saving groups seems to be their reluctance to share outside of their region/group.  While I understand that the seeds have been selected to their climate, which is a great thing, they tend to have varieties that I can not find anywhere else.  To my mind this insular thinking is rather limiting and will likely cause varieties to disappear from Australia rather than saving them.  Perhaps having a state seed saver group that distributes across the entire state (to prevent domestic quarantine issues) would be better than the current disjointed groups?  It would certainly give people access to ore varieties.

    Now I have to say that I don’t have an answer to this, I am hoping that someone else has solutions and is willing to share their ideas here.  There are many amazing varieties of vegetables in the country that are going extinct, some contain unique genes that could be useful in breeding programs.  It breaks my heart to watch things disappear.

    Recently I have learned about seed libraries.  I have no experience with them at all and don’t know much other than they sound much like seed saving groups without the personal interaction.  I don’t know if they are better or worse than seed saving groups.  Again they sound like they are reluctant to share outside of their region/group which is a problem.

    So what are people’s ideas, how can we stop or at least slow varieties from going extinct in Australia?  Giving away seeds to friends?  Selling on ebay?  I don’t know?


    Maybe someone at your State Museum could help direct you to a proper Seed Bank: I know they exist, I think there is possibly one in Australia.


    I had high hopes of setting one up as part of our community garden but it all splintered over politics.Now its just informal groups of locals who share and swap seeds and plants.Its not ideal.The concept of keeping it local is noble but a lot of my seeds started in my dads backyard in Melbourne and prior to that in some farm in Europe and before that probably the jungles of South America before they came to subtropical Qld.Seeds adapt.I would try contacting a few seed banks and see if it leads you down the right path. And then tell us and we will see what we can add to it.


    I’ve got some (no longer can buy) seeds from Judi B – planted the peas last year, for the purpose of adding to the seed collection,
    she also gave me some beans that you can no longer buy


    Maybe the Diggers club would also be interested?


    Talking seed savers my tomato seeds I put between 2 sheets of paper towels are now dry

    whats the next step in saving them

    How do you store them

    And how long will they keep


    Tomato seeds are tough
    I remember reading or hearing they have dug tomatoes seeds out of the wooden sewers under Melbourne when they replaced them and grew them to see what varieties were eaten years ago.



    “I had high hopes of setting one up as part
    of our community garden but it all splintered over politics.”
    I think that is one of the biggest problems, people have great ideas but then for one reason or another things go awry.  I wish I had a solution.

    I know that the government has a seed bank as I have got seeds from them in the past, but they have not been replying to my emails and I fear that they may have shut down or been so under staffed that they no longer function.

    I dislike diggers club, I won’t go into it now.

    Aussiedownunder did you ferment the seeds or just dry them?  Either way if they are dry tomato seeds last years, fermented apparently lasts longer.  If you can put them in a zip lock bag or something it will keep air and moisture out which will help them last longer.  If you can keep them out of sunlight and reasonably stable temperature wise they last 10 or more years with no issues.  Cool temperatures are the best, ideally in the fridge but just sitting in an envelope in the sock drawer I have germinated 15 year old tomato seeds.  I have germinated some 20 year old tomato seeds but they were less vigorous and had low germination rates.

    I am told that frozen tomato seeds can last 100 or more years, but you have to be a bit careful on how you freeze them.


    Thanks just dried   and put in a jar with a bit of paper towel

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