Friday 31 July 2009



National Winner of the Organic Federation of Australia Awards of Excellence as the leading Organic Educator.


Beyond Organics

Sunday, Sept 20th 8.30am – 4.30pm $100

One day course to introduce the practical concepts of the biodynamic methods to farmers & gardeners. The biodynamic method is a modern organic approach that creates a holistic approach to building healthy soil, plants, animals & humans. Includes notes, biodynamic preparations, lunch & teas.


Sunday, September 27th 9.00 -12.30 $40

Practical guide to establishing & maintaining a productive & healthy vegetable garden. Our climate offers many opportunities to grow food for your table all year round. Discover what plants to grow, and when. Practical tips & ideas.


Sunday, September 20th 1.30 -5pm $40

Working with the rhythms of nature can develop your skills in fine tuning your garden and can add a new dimension to your gardening experience.


Sunday, October 11th 9.00 -12.30 $40

Reduce water use by learning the principles of composting & mulching, techniques & materials used & how they can be used most effectively on your garden or farm.


Sunday, October 11th 1.30- 5pm $40

Soil underpins all gardening activities. What is a healthy soil? How can I improve my soil? Develop skills to monitor and improve your soils so they hold more moisture produce healthy plants.


Sunday, October 18th 9.00 -12.30 pm. $40

Practical guide to growing fruits, nuts & berries. Establishing, maintenance, ground covers, soils.


Sunday October 25th 9.00 – 12 30 $40

All you need to know about getting started with poultry. Includes breed selection, housing, feeding, breeding, pests.


Sunday, November 8th 9am 4pm $95

The ideal way to recycle your garden prunings .A introduction to natural fibre weaving. Includes techniques, suitable plants & other materials to make baskets, fences & trellises. Includes all materials, lunch & teas.

All courses are held at NIRVANA ORGANIC FARM


UBD 157:G7. Exit from SE Freeway at Stirling, turn right at roundabout & travel 3.5 km.

The courses are practical, ‘hands on’ conducted by experienced biodynamic/organic farmers, Deb & Quentin. Their successful small holding has been run under BIO-DYNAMIC principles since 1983.

The 4.5 ha property provides the ideal classroom filled with practical examples of how goals can be achieved & gives inspiration into this GARDEN QUALITY FARMING to both gardeners & farmers alike.


DEB OR QUENTIN PHONE/ (08) 8339 2519


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3 years ago this blog did not exist, I had never used a computer and most of us seedsavers did not know each other.

After 3 years of determined “you can do it” coaching from Kate and Bob, I can now use this amazing computer to at least write this.

Everyday people from all over the world visit this site as the google information on gardening, health or eco news.

Some of the most popular topics are daikon recipes, asian greens, water plants, dry gardens,

hydroponics, the list goes on and on.

The 1st time I met Kate she exclaimed loudly,”you cannot meet without me!”

I now understand what she meant, she did not want to miss even one of our seedsavers gatherings. She wanted to know what we were all growing and how we were preparing the different veggies and herbs.

Her passion for gardening has been contagious as she exclaims “we must go to Tony Scarfo’s” or Nirvana Farm or all the other amazing visits she has organised for us.

And all our visits have been great fun and really interesting.

Kate has encouraged us to save seeds and share our gardens and produce with each other.

So for keeping this blog alive, for organizing and emailing us about events and all your private home visits to all our gardens, We THANK YOU KATE.

We have also become friends with many other gardening folk from all over the world.

We have been to visit some amazing organic farms around Adelaide and met many interesting people.

We have all either done Diana’s Seeds for Health Gardening Course or have been guest speakers.

Some of us continue to look after the Fern Avenue Cancer Care plot between courses and Cath takes excess produce to Cancer Care. We also prepare healthy soup or quiches for lunch after Diana’s classes.

We meet 3 or 4 times a year to swap seeds and produce and we have great fun together.

Cath has organized a trip to Joyeta next weekend, we will have a shared lunch and once again chatter about our gardens, the wonderful rain we have had and everything else we are doing.

I shall notify you about a visit to a herb farm and we shall organize a seed swap soon.


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Monday 27 July 2009




Seeds For Health is an organic, grass roots community garden program combining support, education and focus on health in a hands on program designed to equip people to produce their own organic food. An activity of Adelaide’s Cancer Care Centre, Seeds for Health continues a 20 year tradition of innovative and effective health programs.

The course provides skills in organic vegetable gardening, both in gardens and containers, so it will be possible for people to grow their own ‘healthy food’. A holistic experience - providing the opportunity to connect with nature and gain the important health benefits of relaxation, reducing stress and anxiety, increasing self reliance along with a real sense of achievement, and experiencing the fun of great community gardening.

Held at Fern Ave Community Garden

18–20 Fern Avenue, Fullarton

Wednesdays 10am to 12 noon for 7 weeks

commencing AUGUST12th

(lunch provided for a small donation - 12noon to 1pm)

Course fees: $70 for members of Cancer Care, $90 for non-member.

Phone: Cancer Care – 08 8272 2411

Bookings essential

Course Overview

Seeds for Health - insights to organics, permaculture & biodynamics. Sowing seeds for a home grown project.

Kitchen Garden Inspirations - creating productive organic food gardens.

By Design - permaculture ideas for creative Kitchen Gardens (be it a tub or a backyard!).

The Good Earth - care of the soil with organic practices. Cultivating healthy soil - healthy plants - healthy people.

Compost - the most vitally important key to organic food gardening.

Garden management & container growing …… making it all work!

Seeds for the Future - looking ahead - discovering the Seedsavers network.

Inspirational guest speakers & a field visit included in the program.

This course is open to anyone with an interest in health & organic food gardening.

Friday 24 July 2009


koala drinking I know just how the plants in my vegetable garden are feeling, because I feel the same! It was a long, hot and dry summer after several other similar years and the drought was beginning to show significantly throughout Adelaide and South Australia. Big trees have been dying, animals like koalas which normally survive on eucalypt leaves alone were found dead next to water bowls left out for dogs and there was that great but heart-wrenching photo of a cyclist sharing a bottle of water with a koala, in the middle of the road.

And then it rained....and rained.... all winter it has rained and the wind has blown in from the Antarctic, tearing up the beaches, knocking down stressed trees and sending me scurrying off to look for a coat and scarf and hat to wear on the beach every Thursday. It has been wonderful and no-one is complaining because this is how winter is supposed to be, but hasn't been, for many years.

And the plants that normally would have died back in this cold and wet weather are also flourishing! I have capsicums still regularly ripening, defying everything I would have expected in mid-July here. Cathy has tomatoes still ripening and even flowering! Trees which are normally deciduous are holding their leaves despite the winds and herbaceous perennial herbs are staying awake all winter just for the pure joy of being alive and feeling their roots growing in the rain-soaked soil.

The rain has been a bit patchy and not all of the state or even all of Adelaide, has had as much as is needed. As we huddled together to shelter from a torrential downpour and howling wind gust, on Wednesday at Sally's garden, my mother, only about 20 minutes drive away, was hanging out her washing on the clothes line, lamenting that the forecast rain had not come her way again.

There is nothing more depressing than drought, even for city dwellers. Water restrictions have meant precious plants have died and that is like losing a friend. Some commercial fruit growers have had to leave their trees to die, wasting so many years of hard work and reducing future income even further. So when the rain comes, the mood of the whole country changes and I do wonder if that is partly why Australians have shrugged off the economic recession as if it never happened, defying trends in every other country. The mood is buoyant, people are happy, the hills are green, rainwater tanks are full and we feel resilient and able to conquer anything, so long as we have rain.

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Galangal from Garden to Plate

Getting to know Galangal by Maggie

We think it is lesser galangal, what do you think?

We took these photos of our experiments with galangal.

It is a really lovely plant and the flavour is quite different to any other herb.

I shall revisit this galangal story sometime when I know more about it.

Garden & Compost 005 Garden & Compost 018 Galangal 002 Galangal 010 Galangal 014 Galangal 019

Sunday 19 July 2009



There is a new market in town and, for a change, it is happens on a weekday which is why the Hills and Plains Seedsavers included it in our recent trip to visit the gardens of two of our members. I arrived at 10.30am and at first glance thought this was just another little market.....until I started talking to the people.


imageHere is a collage of all the people I talked to. Each has a story of how they came to be there. They are people not so much doing a job but sharing their dreams. Every single thing at that market was something I would be happy to buy and mostly things that I already do have in my life in one way or another.


image I think the whole success of the market culture, which is springing up everywhere these days, is as much to do with the people as with what they are selling. Sure, they are selling great stuff, but most organic foods and products can be bought from shops such as Wilson's organics.


So why do people flock to markets such as this one?image

When I was a kid, there was a big community fete culture and I loved going with my father, who had infinite patience, to local fund-raising fetes put on by charities, schools and businesses. We would wander around the outdoor stalls, which usually included  biscuits and cakes, knitted and crocheted clothing and dolls' clothes (which was what I was always after), tea and coffee, plants (which my father usually had donated to), home made toffees and lollies, second hand books and what was usually called a white elephant stall, selling anything they could get hold of in the way of second hand stuff. My father always chatted to the stall holders, kids ate toffee apples and other sticky treats and everyone was happy.

image The last 20 years or more has seen these lovely, open air, charity events dwindle and, instead, charity shops have opened. School fetes are no longer run by parent groups selling home made goodies and old fashioned fun as parents all seem too busy these days. Insurance has become an issue for fund raising events and red tape too. So I think the market is the modern version, providing browsing space and a happy atmosphere along with people who have a passion for their wonderful products.


When you visit the Grange Organic and Sustainable Living Market, take a few moments to talk to the people; real people with stories and dreams to share. Afterwards you can go for a walk on the beach, just a few metres away.

Open 2nd and 4th Wednesdays, 9.30 - 2pm. Grange Uniting Church Hall, 5 Beach St., Grange

Click here for more photos.

Sunday 12 July 2009

Gardening with Ting

image I have had a busy week and not written anything despite having it all in my head and the photos in the camera.

Tuesday I visited one of our seedsavers members,Ting and her garden. Ting is from Taiwan and it is so interesting to talk with her and learn how different food and culture can be, first hand. I gave Ting 2 taro plants.... I don't have a clue about taro..... but they have been very nice looking in my water garden. She knows all about taro.... which is why I gave them to her, after all. But she doesn't have a feel for using some things we all eat, like tomatoes, olives and beetroot. We can learn so much from each other in these ways and make for a richer life for all of us.


This pumpkin is still flowering and in full health in the middle of winter. Sure it is in an ideal warm position but this shows how crazy our weather has become.

Ting told me how most Taiwanese grow some rice, even if it is a tiny bit, out of respect for this grain which is their food staple and comes in so many varieties. So Ting wondered what it was that we hold in such high regard..... the staple of Australia or even of South Australia.... and so she has sown some grains. She has wheat and oats and barley I think.... because it is such a strong custom for her to do this. I told her no-one respects their food like that here.... so many people just stuff food in and never think.

Ting also understands her body and wants to learn more about Chinese herbs etc. I said that people, on the whole, don't do that in Australian society. People just go to the doctor if they don't feel well and that eating your way to health is, to most, a weird thing to do! She found this hard to believe and thought she was not understanding me. But yes, Ting, you understood me right.....and I don't understand it either. But if you read this blog often you will know my thoughts on that subject already!



This wonderful solar oven is used as a little green house in winter and is so warm and well insulated.



I have never seen so many olives on one tree and Ting said if anyone wants some please to come and help themselves.... The branches are hanging down to the ground and so easy to pick. Just send an email to this blog and I will pass it on to Ting. Pease do.... it would be terrible to see them go to waste.

It was fascinating talking with Ting and she is so friendly and lovely. Her garden is filled with wonderful things, like the little bundles of sticks which are prunings from the fruit trees, tied up with pieces of old bike tyre tubes, which she has laid along as an edging to one of the beds.

To see this and more photos, click here.

Thanks so much Ting for inviting me to your garden and for your hospitality and for teaching me a little about your culture.

Monday 6 July 2009


People in Europe and the USA seem oblivious of what we in Australia call the hole in the ozone layer. So I thought a little education was needed, since they helped cause it to appear! This hole lets in UV rays that humans have not evolved to be able to take in large doses. Primarily it affects our skin, and that of other animals too and is the single greatest cause for our enormous rate of skin cancer in Australia. (Personally I think that chemical sunscreen is the main cause but what would I know??) Although the hole is not directly over Australia, as the earth turns during the day, the sun shines through the hole onto all southern countries. We have all also noticed that fruits are much more often ruined now by sun burn than ever when I was child. Tomatoes and capsicums are particularly easily damaged and everyone here in South Australia is erecting light shade over their summer vegetable gardens these days.

The following is an excerpt from the online Eco News, an excellent, free newsletter you can subscribe to, as I do.

In the early 1980s, through a combination of ground-based and satellite measurements, scientists began to realize that Earth’s natural sunscreen was thinning dramatically over the South Pole each spring. This large, thin spot in the ozone layer caused by chloroflourocarbons (CFCs) came to be known as the ozone hole.

ozone hole 1979-2008 In 1979, the ozone hole reached its maximum depth on September 30. At 194 Dobson Units (DU), it was not far below the historical low. The hole was confined to a relatively small area centered on the Antarctic Peninsula and the Weddell Sea to its east.

Almost three decades later, the ozone concentration during the 2008 Southern Hemisphere spring bottomed out on October 4, 2008, at just 100 DU. The ozone hole encompassed virtually all of Antarctica and reached across the Southern Ocean toward the tip of South America.

The global recognition of CFCs’ destructive potential led to the 1989 Montreal Protocol banning the production of ozone-depleting chemicals. Scientists estimate that about 80 percent of the chlorine (and bromine, which has a similar ozone-depleting effect) in the stratosphere over Antarctica today is from human, not natural, sources.

Models suggest that the concentration of chlorine and other ozone-depleting substances in the stratosphere will not return to pre-1980 levels until the middle decades of this century. These same models predict that the Antarctic ozone layer will recover around 2040. On the other hand, because of the impact of greenhouse gas warming, the ozone layer over the tropics and mid-southern latitudes may not recover for more than a century, and perhaps not ever.

Sunday 5 July 2009


Sometimes I read or hear or watch something so beautiful that it brings along with it emotions that are hard to put into words. So many of us spend time battling our way through all the things we are trying so hard to change. Sometimes it is just nice to let a story, told with simple words and in a gentle voice, wash over us and renew our spirit.


"Everybody should be their own leader".... in other words, we must each take responsibility for our actions - all of them - and lead ourselves to being at peace with the earth. At one.

I found this video on Indian Earth.... a blog about a small family's journey to where they belong.

Saturday 4 July 2009


image It took me all of 7 minutes to get to the Urrbrae Agricultural High School's produce market this morning. Situated only 10 minutes from the Adelaide city centre, this substantial piece of land is home to hundreds of chickens, both egg-laying and meat hens, dozens of sheep and goats, several cows, pigs and alpacas and no doubt some other animals too. It also has orchards, olive groves, a vineyard and vegetable growing areas. Not only is this a working farm, it also has facilities for wine making, olive pressing,wool spinning, jam making and too many others to name.

image Here, school students learn to become farmers, agricultural researchers, water use specialists ..... everything and anything to do with the land. What's more, they learn the business skills to help them succeed and they take part in their very own monthly market, selling vegetables, meat, wines, value-added things like jams, oils, pickles as well as manures and compost. Some entrepreneurs have their own stalls too, selling produce from home such as herbs, vegetables, pies and tarts.


image Today Maggie and I could not resist Daniel's sausage rolls. Sadly I have no photos.... as soon as they arrived, hot from the oven, they were snapped up. Luckily he saved us some and I am pleased to say they were the very best sausage rolls I have ever eaten. At the next trestle was another lad whose name I do not know, but I bought one of his lemon tarts, after testing a sample piece.... where do these kids learn to cook like this??  On Wednesday you will meet Daniel, as he is coming on our seedsavers day out!




Maggie and I both bought a frozen chicken, I bought some Sundowner apples which are one of my favourites.... 3 for only 50c....and some marinated goats fetta, and Maggie bought some goat sausages. The fact that all this was grown and made only 7 minutes from my home and less from Maggie's as she lives opposite the school, and it is teaching thousands of teenagers to do it too, bang in the centre of the suburbs, is a credit to someone somewhere in our dim dark history. Actually anyone can have a stall there.... so if you have some herbs or produce you'd like to sell, give them a call and ask for Maxine.

You can wander around and see a lot of the farm and school and so on and when the school is open, there are tours you can go on too. During school hours you can buy produce from the canteen.... I have lined up at recess time and bought some eggs and vegetables, and the kids don't bat an eyelid.

image On the way back to Maggie's for a coffee, a rainbow showed the way and I swear it was ending right at her front door.... and you know what? Maggie and Bob are the best pots of gold I would want to find at the end of any rainbow.image

This is all you are going to see of Bob today but their garden is THE best vegetable and herb garden I know, anywhere in the world ..... and I should know.... I've been around.... and around.... and soon to go again..... for good.


But that's another story. There are lots more photos here.

Wednesday 1 July 2009



Monsanto is trying to introduce genetically modified eggplant seed into India. Here is a letter I received recently. Please read it and do what you can. This is NOT someone else's problem, it is the responsibility of every human on this planet, including you and me.

Dear friends and colleagues,

This letter is to request you to sign a petition to the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, seeking to ban the entry of GM foods and seeds into the country.

The Anti-GM Food campaign ( has been active  for a couple of years, and has thousands of farmers and urban consumers backing it in India. The protest recently got a reprieve when the newly appointed Union Minister for Environment and Forests, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, made a statement saying he would not allow the entry of GM foods into India. We now need international support to make sure that there is enough pressure on the goverment to take sane decisions regarding the future of our nation.

Many of you may be aware that Monsanto is ready for the release and commercial sale of  Bt Brinjal (eggplant) seeds in India. Eggplant is an an ironic choice of vegetable, since it is a well known fact that India has hundreds of local, native eggplant varieties, that continue to be cultivated even today, in fields and home gardens.

Earlier, the Indian government allowed  large scale field trials of Bt Brinjal without biosafety protocol being cleared. Some of you may also have seen Monsanto's  advertisements in leading newspapers and magazines in the US, about biotechnology saving the world, using Climate Change as a platform for their argument.

All you need to do is go to  and sign the petition. It will go directly to the Prime Minister's office (PMO). Every voice counts. This is a global concern we are talking about here, not just India.

I would like to mention here that India and the US  Bush administration had signed an agreement - the Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (KIA)  with a great emphasis on and large plans for transgenics,  using state of the art infrastructure in India as tools for  multi-national seed companies. It is interesting to note that Monsanto is one of the members of the KIA board, along with WalMart!

The Indian government  had also come up with a Biotechnology  Development Strategy (a policy framework) for the country with huge financial outlays for modern biotechnology, despite great opposition from hundreds of civil society groups at each stage  - right from the draft to the regional consultations.

I am sending this mail out to all of you whom I have met, or been in touch with on email or phone during my time in the US over the last four months. I have mentioned the Bt Brinjal campaign to many of you, and I feel confident that you will respond to this alert. Please also take a few minutes to send it out to your network so this gets wider publicity.

The campaign may also request you for future help, in case things reach a stage where phone-ins on designated dates are needed. We would deeply appreciate it if those of you who can do so, respond to this request as well. What seemed like a lost case then, has reached this stage with public pressure and participation, and with our collective effort, we may be able to get the government to take an appropriate decision. 

Many, many thanks in advance and all good luck with your own work.

Warm regards,

Sunita Rao

Sunita Rao
Adjunct  Fellow, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bangalore, India (
Member, Kalpavriksh, Pune, India (
Founder Trustee, VANASTREE, Sirsi, India (


And something equally as serious re Tasmania

Twenty leading banks and pulp companies from around the world have committed to not fund Gunns’ pulp mill. Now Gunns is trying to get the Federal government to save the ill-conceived project.

If Gunns succeeds, then for decades to come Tasmania's magnificent forest ecosystems will be locked into industrial-scale logging along the lines of what takes place in Brazil and Indonesia.