STOCKS of a rare local maize variety have been boosted 100 times over after century-old seeds planted on the Richmond lowlands resulted in a bumper harvest.
The one-kilo remaining bag of Hawkesbury maize was planted earlier this year at the Greater Sydney Local Land Services' (GSLLS) demonstration farm after being discovered at the Henry Double Day Research Association (HDDRA) seedbank.
The project was hugely successful, and the May 31 harvest will see an estimated 100 kilograms of the rare seeds collected go to replenish the seedbank and fuel Western Sydney University's (WSU) student research.
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GSLLS 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."
The project is a collaboration between GSLLS, the university, the HDDRA and Hawkesbury Harvest and Farmgate Trails (HHFT).
WSU Sustainable Futures manager Jen Dollin said the harvested seed would allow for further student projects including exploring the nutritional profile of the heirloom vegetable and research into the provenance and genetic profile.
"We see valuable potential for continuing this collaboration link this to our teaching programs," she said.
Hawkesbury Harvest and Farmgate Trails chief executive Dr Ian Knowd said the network would like to see a re-emergence of heritage and heirloom vegetables in the Hawkesbury region.
"This enables our local farmers to explore new commercial opportunities that could occur as a result," he said.
Mr Conasch 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 insight into productive and sustainable farming practices is exactly what our Demonstration Farm is all about," he said.
"It's a real privilege to play a part in keep this history alive and well."