x. SEED SAVER NETWORKS & HERITAGE GARDENS
Seed saver groups provide a valuable community and local seed bank. They are organised in a bioregional fashion, with local groups across Melbourne.
Fiona Fulton explains further that “the role of Melbourne East Seed Savers is to help conserve the genetic diversity of our plants species, especially open-pollinated food varieties, by maintaining a “seed bank” that is a stock of local seed varieties. This seed bank may not be a literal collection of seeds, but the living collection of seed grown, harvested and regrown by members. Being a locally based organization, we distribute and exchange seeds and plant materials which are best suited to and have adapted to the local biosphere.” Seed savers also provide community education and networking.
Danae Jeanes, gardener at Heide Heritage Kitchen Garden, explained that “John and Sunday Reid had 16 and a half acres and they wanted to be self sufficient. It was their dream.”
With their nut and fruit trees still available for harvest today, and some of the kitchen garden varieties descended from the plantings of John and Sunday Reid, “what they initiated on their property was for local artists to come and live with them. John and Sunday would help then with organising exhibitions and funding them as artists and the artists would work in the garden… We try to continue to grow vegies and we keep harvesting the fruit.”
The Diggers Heritage Farm, although 30 years old this year, offers a longer heritage in the genes of the plants grown. Clize Blazey explains that “this is gardener’s inheritance – each variety has a story.” However, he also spoke of very little plant breeding in Australia, with a lot of heritage varieties coming from the US.