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Trial Sees Heritage Crop Seedbank Restored

A century-old one kilogram bag of rare Hawkesbury maize has turned into a bumper crop that will replenish Western Sydney University’s seedbank and fuel further research.

The successful trial plot grown at the Greater Sydney Local Land Services (GS LLS) Demonstration Farm in the Richmond Lowlands, was harvested on Friday with an estimated 100 kilos of seed collected.

The trial is a collaboration project between GS LLS, Western Sydney University (WSU), the Henry Double Day Research Association and Hawkesbury Harvest and Farmgate Trails.

GS LLS farm manager Peter Conasch said the success of the trial crop went beyond expectations.

“What we’ve harvested from a tiny bag of seedlings is truly remarkable,” he said.

“It’s a great result for sure and our project partners given the historical significance of this particular maize variety which was developed by some of the Hawkesbury’s pioneer farmers.”

WSU’s sustainability manager Jen Dollin said the harvested seed would allow for further research into the provenance and genetic profile of the heirloom vegetable.

“We see the potential for continuing this collaboration and would ideally like to see a re-emergence of heritage/heirloom vegetables in the Hawkesbury region, link this to our teaching programs and enable our local farmers to explore new commercial opportunities that could occur as a result,” Ms Dollin said.

Mr Conasch said he hoped the success of the partnership would inspire further trials on heirloom vegetable crops.

“Collaborations like this one which not only support real research into local agriculture and its proud history in this Sydney basin, but also give local growers tangible, first hand insight into productive and sustainable farming practices is exactly what our Demonstration Farm is all about,” he said.

“The site of our Farm is rich in history, having belonged to Hawkesbury Agricultural College after the college was administered a section of Crown land from the NSW Department of Mines and Agriculture between 1891 and 1908.

“It’s a real privilege to play a part in keep this history alive and well.”

To find out more about upcoming workshops and partnership opportunities at the Demonstration Farm contact Mr Conasch on ph: 0427 741 956.

ENDS

Media contact: Nikki McGrathph. 02) 4724 2138 M 0448 953 755