Seed savers

Learn the art of sur­vival

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion and to book on­line for the two-day work­shop visit: www.seed­f­ ROGER HAN­SON

A HUON Val­ley mar­ket gar­dener has de­vel­oped a two-day work­shop to teach home gar­den­ers on how to save seeds.

Linda Cock­burn said her seed-sav­ing pas­sion and next month’s Seed Storm work­shop stemmed from her con­cern about global and lo­cal food se­cu­rity.

“It is amaz­ing to think there is no veg­etable and herb seed bank in Aus­tralia. A point of vul­ner­a­bil­ity that needs to be ad­dressed,” Ms Cock­burn said.

The two-day work­shop on May 27 and 28 at the Sus­tain­able Learn­ing Cen­tre at Mt Nel­son will be run by ex­perts in­clud­ing Green Har­vest’s Frances Michaels and Royal Tas­ma­nian Botan­i­cal Gar­den’s seed bank man­ager James Wood.

“This is about im­por­tance of seeds to our sur­vival. We’ve lost 94 per cent of seed di­ver­sity in the past 100 years,” Ms Cock­burn said.

“Re­cently we’ve needed to reach back into heir­loom va­ri­eties to find ge­netic traits to over­come present-day dis­eases that, with­out their as­sis­tance, may have re­sulted in loss of crops, for ex­am­ple sun­flow­ers in the US, rice and wheat.”

She said the work­shop would have demon­stra­tions to help home gar­den­ers.

“Th­ese are the peo­ple who are do­ing the most to per­pet­u­ate rare species of ve­g­ies, herbs and fruit,” she said.

Ms Cock­burn said with open-pol­li­nated seed, peo­ple would be able pro­vide them­selves with food.

“We need a south­ern hemi­sphere Sval­bard, which is a se­cure seed bank on a Nor­we­gian is­land,” she said.

“We have a well-es­tab­lished na­tive seed bank, but be­lieve we need to go the next step.”

Ms Cock­burn said the work­shop was not go­ing to ad­dress the is­sue, but it was a step in gaug­ing in­ter­est in be­ing in­volved in es­tab­lish­ing one.

“We don’t need a gene bank, which re­quires a mas­sive fund­ing un­der­tak­ing, but a seed bank. I be­lieve Tas­ma­nia would be a great place to es­tab­lish one,” she said.

Ms Cock­burn started Seed Freaks to source seed that was ac­cli­ma­tised to the area and per­formed well, pro­vid­ing high qual­ity crops.

By grow­ing their own seed on the farm, they have es­tab­lished what works and what does not.

“We’re sit­ting about 80 per cent of our own seed, and aim­ing for 100 per cent,” she said.

Ms Cock­burn and her part­ner, Trevor Wittmer, from Surges Bay, also grow or­ganic veg­eta­bles sell­ing them at the Huon Farm­ers Mar­ket.

“We spe­cialise in un­usual to­mato va­ri­eties, with 150 va­ri­eties grown this year,” she said.

“It’s a big time of year for har­vest­ing and I’ve been pro­cess­ing up to 200kg of toma­toes in a week. Now we’re into pump­kins, cu­cum­bers, beans, sun­flow­ers, spinach and mov­ing on to corn in a week or two.”

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