Tomato harvest 02.07Earlier this year we had the delight of picking and eating our own tomatoes – truly one of life’s joys – and hand grown, chemical-free produce is one of the sweetest taste sensations I know. And we are looking forward to an abundance of taste sensations to share with our customers in the coming months.

The image at left shows some of the first pickings from the tomato patch earlier this year, and they came from a mixed pack of heirloom seeds that Diggers Seeds supplied. Containing six varieties – Red Sugarlump, Black Krim, Orange Jaume Flammee, Yellow Peach, Green Zebra, and White Cherry – the seeds were not individually wrapped, so we didn’t know what we would get until each seed had sprouted, grown and fruited.

On one hand this is not ideal – what if we’d only got a crop of
Yellow Peach tomatoes? – however a range of types grew, and we had a
variety of colours, flavours and differing harvest times that kept us
in tomatoes for a good few months.

Aside from the culinary
benefits of healthy produce that these activities produce, we also
collected seed from the crop, followed the suggested procedures for
tomatoes, and stored them appropriately through the winter. Then, come
mid-August, just as the southern winter is starting to loose it’s bite,
the seeding begins.

Containers are filled with potting mix,
seeds are planted, the trays watered, and moved into the protection of
the poly house. Every second day, the containers are watered, while we
continue to wait with anticipation.

Then about 10-14 days after
planting, one of life’s great mysteries shows itself again. Like magic,
a little green plant emerges from the mix, and the circle of life
continues for another year.

1st 1466 tomato seedling 01Collecting
and germinating your own seed has many many benefits, and is quite easy
to arrange. This enables you to breed plants that have desirable
qualities, a practice known as selective breeding, and as successive
crops will have been acclimatised to your particular site, each
following year will provide plants that are suited a little better to
your specific conditions. You can choose any number of desirable
attributes to breed for – colour, fruit size, flower size, plant habit,
time of fruit set/harvest, pest or disease resistance, drought
hardiness, and on and on.

So each harvest you need to keep the
best fruit for the seed collection – probably not the picture you had
in mind when you planted your first seeds, but certainly the tact to
take when saving seeds, as then all of next years plants have the
opportunity to provide better fruit. If this practice is followed each
year, over time you will improve the quality of your plants and

Another great advantage, in addition to knowing where
your seeds have come from, is participating in the preservation of a
whole range of plants that are slowly slipping out of circulation.
Commercial vegetable growers and seed suppliers are limited by what the
industrial food complex requires by way of produce that can store well,
often for long periods, withstand handling and long distance shipping,
be blemish free and be at peak colour at the time they reach the shelf.
For tomatoes, this means that a very limited number of varieties are
grown commercially, and you need to know that the range of colours,
types, shapes, sizes, taste and uses is almost limitless.

For a wealth of further information on this topic, see the Seed Savers Network,
a grass roots organisation founded in 1986 by Michel and Jude Fanton,
to preserve the diversity of our cultural plants. Their worldwide
activities include a newsletter, seed exchange, seed bank, frequent events and workshops and the publication of a best selling handbook on the subject.Tomato seeds - yellow peach 2008

Achievements of the Seed Savers Network include: 

  • Over 5,500 seed varieties have come through their seed bank; 
  • Over 10,000 people have been directly involved with Seed Savers; 
  • 23,000 copies of The Seed Savers’ Handbook sold in the first ten years 
  • Over 1,300 varieties of seeds and other planting materials are offered in our Spring newsletters; 
  • Seed Savers’ has helped to establish Seed Networks in a number of
    other countries such as Cambodia, East Timor, Ecuador, India, Japan,
    Solomon Islands and The Philippines.

For those interested in tomatoes, one lady following the biodynamic path is Cynthia Sandberg at Love Apple Farm in California. Cynthia supplies produce for the Manresa Restaurant in the Los Gatos area of San Francisco, and details her market farming activities through her website at Grow Better Veggies.

A quick Google for heirloom seeds brought up these suppliers in the US :

Heirloom Seeds

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Victory Heirloom Seeds

In Australia, go to :

Diggers Seeds

If you’ve got your own favourite heirloom seed supplier, forward their details on through the comments section below.

  1. Mark, I feel as you do about people hnavig choices when it comes to their food. The problem is that they usually don’t have the correct information (referring to conventional versus organic). I suppose getting a conversation started is a good first step.

  2. Glad you found the list useful. The resources page here on the site has other sites and listings as well.
    The web has been and will continue to be an amazing resource – the ability for the transfer of knowledge and the speed with which it can occur is great.
    Look forward to seeing you here again.

  3. WOW thanks for this list of great newsletters and websites. It looks like I’ll have a few more blogs to subscribe too! My own blog is listed there in the URL under my name if you want to check it out or add it to the list. I’m just getting started, but I’m excited at the prospect the Internet offers to modern-day homesteaders.

  4. Surya,
    Thanks for your inspiring comment.
    Seems you’ve jumped headlong into immersing yourself in organic and biodynamic agriculture. I’ll contact you by email offline to discuss matters further.


    Dear All:
    This is Mr. Surya Nath Adhikari from Nepal – the Agricultural Country.
    First, I would like to introduce myself in detail:
    I am 39 year old Agriculturist having my own family farm.
    I am wishing to make my Family Farm first Full Organic and then Transition into Bio-Dynamic Organic Farm.
    I am former International J1Exchange Visitor (Trainee) for Farm & Industry Short Course Graduate (One YearCertificate) from University of Wisconsin -Madison, CALS , USA 2001-2002 batch. Presently, I am a Family Farmer and also a Managing Director of – BIO-DYNAMIC ORGANIC FARMING & SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE SERVICE PVT. LTD.
    I am also working as Country Representative/Partner from Nepal for-
    (1) Communicating for Agriculture Exchange Program, MN-USA for Dairy, Field Crops, Horticulture,
    Apiary and Fishery Placements in the US Host Farms ( Reference Maja Bherens:
    (2) The Global Cow Ltd, Vermont-USA for Dairy Placements only ( Reference- Jill Stahl Tyler:
    (3) IEPUK , UK for Dairy, Field Crops and Horticulture Placements only (Reference: Vanessa Peach:
    (4) Worldwide Farmers Exchange (WFE)-assisting in sending applications and
    screening trainees as well as trying to establish Fiber Based Productions Business Export to the US ( Reference: Christopher Barden/Ashley Medulan:
    (5) Rural Exchange-New Zealand, RENZ (Reference: Vicky Lucas:
    (6) Life Member for Wisconsin Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni Association (WALSAA) for various International Relationships. (Reference: Richard Daluge, Dean of Short Course:
    (7) Sending Trainees for the Bibber International, Australia for Winery Placements too (Reference: Sue Calghoris:
    I am also Student/Trainee of Peter Proctor ( the Pioneer in Biodynamic Agriculture and writer of the Book ‘Grasp the Nettle’.
    As I am a former Trainee in International Agriculture Exchange Program, I know
    that how important and necessary are the Agriculture Exchange Programs for the
    young farmers from the Agricultural Country like Nepal .
    I have very good and wide networks among Nepalese farmers who wish to
    participate in such exchange programs for Practical Farming Experiences and Cultural
    Exchanges. And, I have found and experienced that some people (farmers) wish to
    go to different countries for the Different Agricultural Trainings. It depends upon their
    training needs/ Farming Interests and the country love, choice and many more things that they have as a Country / Agricultural System CRAZE!
    So, I am still interested to widen my Agriculture Networks among the other countries. If you are interested for this, Please do contact me.
    Please do note that this Work-Exchange Programs can fulfill the Labor Shortage in the countries where Labor is the main Issue.
    Also, alternatively- I have EXPLORED and am FEELING GREAT NECESSITY FOR going full ORGANIC FARMING AND ITS REVOLUTIONARY PRACTICES (my Main Interest) which has been Today’s Most essential part of Farming- both for Human Health and the Environmental Concerns as well as for the life of the Farm Fields which is a farmer’s Everything.
    So, I have decided to move myself towards the Organic Farming System-(1) by knowing more and more about this farming system from grassroots level to convert/transition my own family farm to the Organic One which is in Progress and (2) by educating and providing full support and services to the Nepalese Farmers –TO GO ORGANIC by transitioning their Conventional Farms to the Organic One.
    So, now my main INTEREST is to establish a Project/ Joint Venture Organic Exchange Program to educate and help Nepalese Farmers –TO GO ORGANIC. As well as I wish to establish an Organic Awareness (Educational) Institution by our Bilateral Venture/Efforts. And for this, we need to start both practical and theoretical awareness programs too.
    So, Can we start either –(1)International Organic Exchange /Training/Employment Programs by Placing the Young Nepalese Farmers at Organic Host/Employer Farms OR-(2) Establish a joint venture On-farm Organic Farming Demonstration Project Program here in Nepal to educate Nepalese Farmers for Sustainability as well as bring Foreign Trainees/Visitors to Nepal too as an Inbound Programs ?
    Please do let me know about it and I would love to get more information or suggestions regarding the matters for the Organic Practices and the movements in NEPAL .
    There is also a VITAL DEMAND for the Organic Vegetable/Fruits and Food Crops.
    Finally, my goal is to move towards Bio-Dynamic Organic Farming System to educate Nepalese Farmers about Bio-diversity and its Holistic Management in the Farm when we entirely all set for the Organic Farming Practices.
    Thank you for your great support.
    I am also wishing to attend any Seminars/Workshops/Short Courses/ Interaction Programs regarding the Sustainable Agriculture.
    More in the next.
    Hope to get reply.
    Surya Nath Adhikari (Former Exchange Visitor at UW-Madison-USA, Agriculturist & Global Exchange Partner)
    Managing Director For-
    Gothatar V.D.C.-8, Kandaghari , Birendra Chowk, Kathmandu, Nepal
    Tele # 977-01-4990880
    Govt of Nepal Regd No. 48702/064/065

Near River Produce - Real food direct from our farm located on the NSW Mid North Coast