A comprehensive guide to native plants has been published in South Australia to help amateurs and professionals alike learn about local flora and regenerating our landscape. Get to know how a Grassroots Grant made this publishing dream come true.

Two people stand by a pull-up banner, with copies of a book about seeds

Local legend Neville Bonney is a pioneer in the promotion of Australian native plants, having spent a lifetime educating people about their conservation value. With more than 50 years of native plant propagation and landscape restoration experience, Neville had a wealth of knowledge to share.

His new book, From One Small Seed, A Forest is Born (FOSS for short) is a comprehensive guide to Australian native plants and their seeds – and it couldn’t have been published without the help of a Grassroots Grant.

We caught up with Heather Whiting, Coordinator of the FOSS Advisory Group, about how our Grassroots Grants program supported the creation of this extraordinary book.

The front cover of a book, From one small seed

Why is this grant project important?

FOSS is a user-friendly, comprehensive, and practical guide for revegetation and restoring natural landscapes, designed to distill complex information for plant enthusiasts. Its audience ranges from beginners to very experienced environmentalists – and this makes it an important book for the South Australian community.

“It was designed to be useful for very broad sections of our community,” Heather said, “Including environmental groups, First Nations Peoples, councils, schools, nurseries, farmers, and homeowners.”

The book encourages greater environmental awareness in the Adelaide metropolitan area and beyond, and hopefully will continue to raise awareness, engagement and active plantings for many years to come.

A group of people sit and smile at the camera with greenery in the background

Since 2018, the FOSS Advisory group has been an essential part in bringing this book into fruition, Heather explained.

“We typed up Neville’s handwritten notes, made digital plant location maps, checked scientific nomenclature (terminology), compiled high-quality biodiversity photographs, and completed vast amounts of editing feedback and formatting,” Heather said.

In the book, over 700 species from 63 families and 240 genera are described with their identifying features of flowers, fruits and seeds illustrated.

Each species description is accompanied by a distribution map and information about pollinators, seed dispersal, seed collection, propagation, ecology and First Nations names and uses.

A book open to several pages to demonstrate the layout of images

How did the grassroots grant help?

The grant helped by covering some of the pre-publishing costs, including, professional editing of scientific terms and lowering the recommended retail price by roughly $20.

The book was also distributed into the local community, with grant funds used to purchase copies of FOSS for five local schools and the Walkerville Library.

As part of the process of engaging community groups, Neville gave 2 free workshops on “Knowing, Growing, Eating Native Plants” in Walkerville Council and at a Warringga Cultural Guides training course in Pooraka.

FOSS was released officially in 2022, with multiple events and book signings.

Close up of an article in a book showing plant seeds

Words of advice for future grant applicants

“Attending a grant workshop is a really good idea, as is making direct contact with a Green Adelaide staff member,” said Heather.

“Ensure your project really fits the Grassroots Grant guidelines and Green Adelaide’s stated aims, and make these connections very clear when you put in your grant application, along with all the positives of your project.”

Organising letters of support, she said, is better done sooner than later – but this process can have the benefit of creating awareness about your project.

“By gathering a wide range of letters of support, interest in FOSS was heightened, with some pre-orders taken and an offshoot of the FOSS Advisory Group helped lead to the aforementioned First Nations Cultural Guides training course.”

Heather also recommended considering an in-kind payment to add value to your project – such as Neville’s free workshops.

Copies of FOSS can be purchased by email from Neville Bonney (nbonney@senet.com.au) or from Open Book Howden for $115 ($130 with postage).

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