News Archives

News posts from 2011

Learn-Grow in Rotary Down Under

Posted on Sunday, 18 December 2011 | Permalink

The December issue of Rotary Down Under has a great article on Learn-Grow.

The article is titled "From Little Things, Big Things are Starting to Grow".  It gives a good summary of our aims and outlines several areas where Learn-Grow can use additional support.  These are:

  • Journalism
  • Agonomy/botanical/technical support
  • Marketer of discs
  • Project managers
  • Facebook manager
  • IT and marketing support


For more details please see the article.

Newsletter offers latest news

Posted on Friday, 9 December 2011 | Permalink

The Learn Grow Newsletter for December 2011 provides information on the latest news and developments with the project.

Obtain an update on international forums that Learn Grow and the Food Plant Solutions Rotarian Action Group will be attending in the first half of 2012.  And learn about a practical activity that you can undertake that is sure to give you much "food for thought"!

It's all covered in the December 2011 edition.

Download December 2011 Newsletter


Learn Grow Chairman wins prestigious award

Posted on Thursday, 8 December 2011 | Permalink

Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) recently announced Learn Grow Chairman, Buz Green, as the winner of the Graham Gregory Award. 

This award has been the horticulture industry’s most prestigious accolade, recognising outstanding achievements from all sectors in horticulture. Buz is the Executive Chairman of Serve-Ag Pty Ltd, a leading provider of agronomic advice, technology and inputs to farmers.  He has been a significant influence on Tasmania’s earned reputation as a reliable supplier of both processed and fresh market horticultural products over the past 35 years.

Buz has travelled extensively throughout the world’s agricultural areas. As a result of this experience, Buz chairs Learn Grow which provides information from the world’s largest database of over 24,000 edible plants to assist food aid providers in their humanitarian work in developing countries. Learn Grow is a project of the Rotary Club of Devonport North, Tasmania.

Buz has led a number of delegations to Rotary International conferences, including a field team to Solomon Islands to implement the adoption of the Learn Grow program.

Named for the late Graham Gregory AO, the first Chairman of the former Horticultural Research and Development Corporation, this award recognises Buz and his considerable achievements. His expertise will help Learn Grow continue to achieve its aim of helping the hungry around the world to feed themselves.

HAL Chairman Selwyn Snell congratulates award winner Buz Green - Photo courtesy of HAL


The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia highlights availability of information on edible food plants

Posted on Wednesday, 30 November 2011 | Permalink

The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia is currently highlighting the availability of what it describes as the "excellent, growing resource" of Learn Grow on its website -

It is referring to the comprehensive edible plant list information for a number of specific regions of the world (a work-in-progress) and two plant disks - Edible Plants in Tasmania and Food Plants in Australia.


The disks are available by contacting Learn Grow under a modest donation-purchase arrangement.

Learn Grow and Food Plant Solutions Rotarian Action Group to be featured in breakout session at the 2012 Rotary International Convention in Bangkok

Posted on Thursday, 17 November 2011 | Permalink

With the challenging title, End Malnutrition Now: The Evergreen Revolution, Learn Grow and Food Plant Solutions Rotarian Action Group will be delivering a dynamic breakout session at the 2012 Rotary International Convention in Bangkok.  This follows approval just received for one of the limited breakout sessions from the Convention Committee.

Chefs around the globe are discovering the “lost” food plants of the world and presenting them on television.  Nutritionists are highlighting the food values of overlooked traditional food plants.  Front line agriculturalists are again focussing on the less well-known food plants of the world to produce the “evergreen revolution.”

Moderated by PRID Dr John Thorne, Chairman of Food Plants Solutions Rotarian Action Group, the breakout session will feature Bruce French, agricultural scientist.  He will present an overview of the comprehensive database of the world’s food plants that he has developed over a lifetime and demonstrate how this information can be used as a tool for elimination of malnutrition in an “evergreen revolution”.

Buz Green, agricultural scientist and Chairman of Learn Grow, will then present a framework for action.  He will explain how Rotarians everywhere can be actively involved in delivering this solution to eliminate malnutrition in South-East Asia and the developing world.

Put the date in your diary now – Wednesday, 9 May 2012 from 2.30 pm to 4.00 pm in room Sapphire 8 at the IMPACT Centre.  (Note: date and time will be subject to final confirmation).  It’s an opportunity not to be missed! 

Visit by Henry Gwao from Solomon Islands publicised in The Advocate of 3 November 2011

Posted on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 | Permalink

Henry Gwao from the School of Natural Resources at Solomon Islands College of Higher Education is currently visiting Tasmania.  He is working with the Unversity of Tasmania and Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research to become conversant with the database of food plants of Solomon Islands before returning to his home country in December.

With thanks and appreciation to The Advocate (photograph courtesy of Jason Hollister), read the article published on 3 November 2011.

Newsletter offers latest news

Posted on Wednesday, 26 October 2011 | Permalink

The Learn Grow Newsletter for October 2011 provides information on the latest news and developments with the project.

Obtain an update on the pioneering program in Solomon Islands, learn about the continued development of the Food Plant Solutions Rotarian Action Group and be inspired, and challenged, by the fundraising efforts of one Rotary District in Australia.  It's all covered in the October 2011 edition.

Download October 2011 Newsletter

Volunteer opportunities

Posted on Thursday, 29 September 2011 | Permalink

We are in the market for volunteers to join us in working on this inspiring project.  Please check out our listing of varied opportunities at 

We look forward to hearing from you.

Food Plant Solutions website is now live!

Posted on Monday, 19 September 2011 | Permalink

The official website of the Food Plant Solutions Rotarian Action Group is now live!

We invite everyone to visit the site at 

Join the FPS social networking site to connect with other members - click here to join the website. to 

We would also encourage you to become official members of the Food Plant Solutions RAG.  By doing so you provide valuable support to Learn Grow.  Click here to become an official member.


Preserving our crucial food heritage

Posted on Monday, 19 September 2011 | Permalink

The respectedNational Geographic magazine, in its July 2011 issue, reported that the world’s looming food crisis should impel us to preserve our crucial heritage of food species.

The magazine’s concern is understandable – and the clock is ticking. Food variety extinction is happening fast and very little is being done to preserve the genetic diversity of our foods.  Disturbingly, experts estimate that we have lost more than half of the world’s food varieties over the past century.

And this is the potential problem - if disease or climate change decimates the varieties we’ve come to depend upon, we may desperately need those varieties we are allowing to become extinct.  The devastating 19thcentury Irish potato famine is just one warning of a community’s over-reliance on a single food source.

Ethiopia, commonly depicted as a famine-prone region, is one country which has benefited in part from the efforts of renowned plant geneticist, Melaku Worede, who has set out to preserve and rebuild the country’s rich biodiversity.

In 1989, he initiated the Seeds of Survival program – a network of community seed banks that save and redistribute the seeds of local farmers.

Worede believes it is cucial to preserve the region’s diversity, not just in seed banks, but on the ground and in close consultation with local farmers. The challenge has been to show that it’s possible to increase productivity without sacrificing diversity.

A parallel effort is under way with local indigenous livestock breeds. Keith Hammond, a UN expert on animal genetics, says that in 80 per cent of the world’s rural areas, the locally adapted genetic resources are superior to imported breeds.

Preserving food diversity is only one of many strategies we’ll need to meet the challenge of feeding a world population of seven billion, but it is a crucial one. 

View the full article at 

New Resource - Important Food Plants for Lowland Nigeria

Posted on Monday, 1 August 2011 | Permalink

We have added a great new resource - Important Food Plants for Lowland Nigeria.

On the Resource Page you will now find free, downloadable Food Plant information for:

  • Nigeria,
  • Timor Leste,
  • the Solomon Islands, and
  • Papua New Guinea.


“Evergreen Revolution” heralds the future

Posted on Tuesday, 26 July 2011 | Permalink

Bruce French has recently returned from Malaysia where he gave a presentation to people from 40 countries who were attending the International Symposium on Under-Utilised Plant Species.

There is chronic malnutrition throughout the tropical world, with up to one billion going hungry and a child dying every 4-5 seconds from malnutrition.  A child becomes blind due to vitamin A deficiency every minute.  Less well-known but locally adapted food plants, especially leafy greens, are crucial to meeting this hidden hunger.  The changing paradigm for food production using agro-ecological methods is the strategy to produce what is being called “The Evergreen Revolution”.  It is considered the way of the future.

There is an exciting new interest among scientists such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, as well as other national organisations, to research these crops.  They are seeking to highlight the virtues of these plants and this approach, since most so far have been at an individual country or crop level.

The presentation delivered by Bruce about the Food Plants International database of over 23,000 plant species and Learn Grow received a good reception.  In addition, this work was the only one to receive a specific commendation in the final wrap-up session.

It is hoped that significant collaboration and distribution networks will develop from the visit and the conference.  A new research centre, focusing specifically on native under-utilised crops, is to be established in Malaysia to give these plants the attention they deserve.

Have your say regarding Australia’s national food plan!

Posted on Friday, 15 July 2011 | Permalink

The plan will cover issues such as food security, productivity and efficiency, sustainability, health and nutrition and general economic policy relating to the food sector. The government envisages that a national food plan will outline the Australian Government’s vision for the food industry and consumers, to guide Australian Government actions and provide certainty for other stakeholders.

Submissions are open on the 'Issues paper to inform development of a national food plan' and close at 5pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, Friday, 5 August 2011. More information and the issues paper are available at:

Learn-Grow at Rotary International Directors Briefing Weekend, Parramatta

Posted on Friday, 15 July 2011 | Permalink

The exciting Learn-Grow Project will be presented to delegates at the RI Directors Briefing Weekend on Saturday, 6 August 2011, 4:15 pm to 4:45 pm.

Clare Klapche from the Learn-Grow Committee will be making a dynamic presentation to delegates and inviting their support for, and participation in, the project in their year of office.

International Symposium on Underutilised Plant Species

Posted on Wednesday, 15 June 2011 | Permalink

An International Symposium on Underutilised Plant Species titled “Crops for the Future – Beyond Food Security” will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 27 June to 1 July 2011.

This symposium will discuss the potential role of underutilised plant species and their contribution to global food security and nutrition, buffering the consequences of climate change and enhancing agricultural biodiversity.

Bruce French will be presenting “Edible Plants of the World - Database” on Tuesday 28 June 2011, as part of Theme 2, Session 2 at 4.40 pm - 5.00 pm.

For more information visit the symposium website at


New Daily Online Newspaper on Food, Agriculture and Climate

Posted on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 | Permalink

The ComingFamine Daily Banner

If you wish to be up to date with world news about food security, agriculture, food and climate change then please sign up for ComingFamine’s daily online newspaper:

It’s absolutely free: there are no costs or charges in this pro bono service to raise awareness of the global food situation.

Food plants International On Emerald Planet Television

Posted on Wednesday, 18 May 2011 | Permalink

On 16 May 2011, Bruce French and Buz Green were interviewed on Cable TV station Emeral Planet about Food Plants International and Learn Grow.

In the first 15 minutes, Bruce discusses his work in various countries and the purpose of Food Plants International.

For the next 30 minutes,, Buz explains the work of Learn◊Grow, the role of Rotary and the strategies that have been adopted to make use of the information Bruce has develoepd.

The interview is the first 45 minutes of the video below.

Launch of the Food Plant Solutions Rotarian Action Group

Posted on Friday, 6 May 2011 | Permalink

Please note the change of time.

Help celebrate the formation of the only new Rotarian Action Group officially recognised by the Rotary International Board in the last 2 years!

Rotary International Convention
New Orleans, USA
Sunday, 22 May 2011, Room 384, 
3:45 pm to 5:00 pm

Invitation (pdf)

Fight For Food

Posted on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 | Permalink

The Examiner Newspaper in Northern Tasmania published the short article below on 22 February 2010 (page6).

The article suggests that the "Coming Famine" scenario is gaining credibility.

To read more about this impending planetary crisis pick up a copy of Julian Cribb's book The Coming Famine: The Global Food Crisis and What We Can Do to Avoid It.

December 2010 Newsletter

Posted on Wednesday, 12 January 2011 | Permalink

The latest edition of our enewsletter went out just before Christmas.  You can read the full newsletter here:
December 2010 Newsletter.

The feature article is also extracted below.

Our Projects

Solomon Islands
Our first major project is happening in the Solomon Islands. There is rapid population growth in the Solomons, and imported foods, particularly rice and biscuits, are becoming major articles of diet. This is not only expensive for the country, but leading to overweight and obesity on a large scale, with all the consequent health problems now pressuring the country’s health services.

A Learn◊Grow team, including Mary Wharton, President of the Rotary Club in Burke, USA, visited the Solomons in March 2009, and met with many people involved in aspects of food production and health. They established that there was a need and desire for this information.

Using the information in the FPI database, Bruce has prepared 5 publications to suit various technical levels, including 3 different publications (Leafy Greens, Root Crops, and Fruits and Nuts) for Solomons farmers to use. John McPhee has taken on the task of editing and reviewing the publications to pre-press stage, and other committee members have been involved in fund raising.

Three of the books have been printed, including 12,000 copies of books for farmers. The books were officially launched in Honiara on August 2010 to an enthusiastic and appreciative reception.

The full shipment has recently arrived and is in the process of being distributed free to teachers, training centres and farmers through a variety of partner organisations. This has been organised by Mark Johnston of the Rotary Club of Honiara.

The Crawford Fund has kindly offered to fund the publication of the final 2 books, which will be underway shortly.

We think these books will raise the profile of locally-adapted and nutritious foods in the Solomons, and the project will be evaluated at a suitable time.

Learn Grow Buz Green, Bruce French, Mr Edward Kingmele CBE, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock who officially launched the Solomon Islands program and Mr Cedric Alependava, Under Secretary, Ministry of Health who also spoke at the launch.

Buz Green, Bruce French, Mr Edward Kingmele CBE, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock who officially launched the Solomon Islands program and Mr Cedric Alependava, Under Secretary, Ministry of Health who also spoke at the launch.

Learn Grow - Mark Johnston - member of the Honiara Rotary Club and local project leader, and Dr. Richard Pauku - local expert on Solomon Islands fruit and nut trees.

Mark Johnston - member of the Honiara Rotary Club and local project leader, and Dr. Richard Pauku - local expert on Solomon Islands fruit and nut trees.