The History of The Diggers Club

The Diggers Club was born in an old tin shed!

Clive and Penny Blazey's purpose was to rescue the wonderful old varieties of vegetables, such as Scarlet Runner Beans, that mainstream companies were dropping from their lists.

Before the days of on-line shopping, the best way to reach the keenest gardeners was to set up mail order distribution, bypassing retail shops. In July, 1978 we posted out the very first Diggers Seed Catalogue, listing 300 varieties of flowers and vegetables. 

1978 - Our first catalogue

1983 - Heronswood purchased

What's in a name?

When The Diggers Club commenced, one of our first club members was a 92-year-old "RSL Digger", more attached to a rifle than a shovel.

Growing our own uncontaminated food is not a new concern, but one that goes back to the 17th century Diggers in England. The original Diggers, inspired by their founder Gerrard Winstanley, seized public land with the aim of growing food to give away to the poor. Their crime was simply planting vegetables on common land but it was met with a force of troops at the request of land owners.

The first Australian reference to Diggers came in 1853 during the Gold Rush. United in rebellion the Diggers rose up when forced to pay unfair taxes. This sparked the Eureka Stockade, so to be called a Digger was to describe a subversive mate who shared the common cause.
Most Diggers at the mines wore blue shirts; creating the origin of the words 'blue collar worker', but it was the word Digger, with its powerful connection to resistance and loyalty, that carried through to our World War One soldiers.

1988 - Diggers pioneers drought tolerant plants

1991 - Diggers pioneers a revival in heirloom vegetables

Diggers today

Today, The Diggers Club works to preserve the best plants and garden traditions to help Australian's become better gardeners. Our independence allows us to speak out against climate change, genetically modified seeds and food, industrial agriculture and the corporatisation of our food supply.

We are more than just a mail order seed company. For over 20 years we have been trialling plants and seeds in a search for the best varieties for home gardeners; plants we call 'garden worthy'. 

1996 - The Garden of St Erth becomes Diggers second garden

2014 - Diggers Garden Shop opens at Cloudehill

Diggers timeline

1978

Our first garden catalogue is published and mailed.

1983

Clive and Penny Blazey purchase Heronswood and begin their contribution to the revival in cottage gardening.

1986

Heronswood joins the first Open Garden Scheme.

1988

Diggers pioneers drought tolerant plants.

1991

The Diggers Club pioneers the revival in heirloom vegetables.

1996

The thatch roof cafe opens, with offices above. The Garden of St Erth becomes Diggers' second gardens. 

1998

We adapt the US Heat and Cold Zones for Australian gardeners.

2007

Our nursery, seed departments and office move to a 20 acre site in Dromana. 

2011

Clive and Penny gift ownership of The Diggers Club, Heronswood and St Erth to the Diggers Garden and Environment Trust. 

2011

The third Diggers shop opens in the Adelaide Botanic Garden.

January 2014

An ember from a nearby bushfire destroys the thatch roof restaurant and offices above at Heronswood.

April 2014

We open our fourth garden shop at Cloudehill Gardens in the Dandenong Ranges. Members receive free entry to Cloudehill. 

July 2014

Historic Heronswood House becomes home to our restaurant.

November 2015

Diggers Seed Shop opens in Heritage Nursery, Canberra. Members receive 10% on all plants, renew their membership and pick up free seed offers.

Diggers Garden and Environment Trust

In 2011, Clive and Penny Blazey gifted ownership of The Diggers Club and the gardens of Heronswood and St Erth to the Diggers Garden and Environment Trust.

The Trust strives to convserve historic gardens, buildings and cultural heritage and to protect heirloom seeds using research and education.

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