Mark your calendar for the 3rd annual California Organic Seed Summit, Friday, February 17, through Sunday, February 19, 2017, at the Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel in Montara, California. The retreat is a unique opportunity to network, exchange knowledge, and develop collective actions to build sustainable, profitable, and resilient seed systems in California. The program is tailored to the needs and interests of participating California seed stakeholders.
Highlights from past meetings have included peer-to-peer discussions on:
• Seed contracting and economics
• Seed production
• Breeding and variety trials
• Tool sharing and collective marketing efforts
Plant breeders Phil Simon of USDA-ARS and Laurie McKenzie of Organic Seed Alliance pose with chef Karl Holl of LetUmEat at this month’s Variety Showcase in Portland, Oregon.
Earlier this month OSA’s Laurie McKenzie joined 21 plant breeders, 27 chefs, and over 350 attendees for the annual Variety Showcase in Portland, Oregon. The annual Culinary Breeding Network (CBN) event celebrates the work of plant breeders and the culinary creativity of professional chefs. OSA is a proud collaborator of CBN, a collection of plant breeders, seed growers, fresh market farmers, chefs, and produce buyers who are developing and identifying varieties and traits of culinary excellence for vegetable traits in the Pacific Northwest. The Variety Showcase pairs breeders and chefs to show off and engage the public in plant breeding, and introduce new and up and coming vegetables, grains, and herbs.
Join OSA and the Bay Area Seed Hub for a one-day training in Pescadero, California, on November 6, 2016. The workshop will teach farmers how to incorporate seed production into their diversified farm plan. Space is limited so interested participants are encouraged to register early. Register at www.seedalliance.org/events by November 3, 2016.
OSA will provide hands-on instruction to help farmers build their skills in seed production biology, on-farm breeding, variety trials, seed harvesting and cleaning, choosing seed crops for their system and climate, managing population size and isolation distance, and economics and identifying markets.
Registration costs for the one-day training are $25.00, training only, and $35.00 for the training and catered lunch.
The fall meeting for the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is just around the corner. Join OSA in St. Louis, MO, from November 15th through the 18th, 2016, for timely discussions and public comment opportunities on a number of organic policy proposals. The National Organic Coalition will host its pre-NOSB meeting on November 15 followed by a packed NOSB agenda from the 16th through the 18th. OSA will be giving a formal presentation on State of Organic Seed, 2016 on the last day, so stick around! A number of seed-related documents are on the agenda that week, from ideas for strengthening the requirements for using organic seed to a proposal for clarifying excluded methods terminology. Your feedback on these documents is critical to the policy making process. Find these documents and instructions for submitting written comments here. Written comments are due by October 26, 2016.
Michael Mazourek of Cornell University explains one of his pepper projects as part of an organic plant breeding course in Montana.
Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) and Cornell University today announced the release of two reports that detail plant breeding priorities for organic agriculture in the Pacific Northwest and Northeast, respectively. The assessments are a result of surveys and regional working groups that gathered input from organic farmers, organic seed and food distributors, and public and private plant breeders.
“The long-term goal of this project is to increase farmers’ access to regionally appropriate seed well-suited for organic production,” says Micaela Colley, program director of OSA and co-author of the organization’s Pacific Northwest report. “Farmers who use organic practices focus more on prevention and resistance because they have fewer inputs at their disposal. They need crop varieties developed specifically for low-input systems – crops that mitigate pest and disease pressures, and that are adapted to their local conditions and climates.”
To date, plant-breeding efforts focused on organic production have been minimal, and organic farmers remain underserved in seed adapted to organic conditions. Research demonstrates that varieties developed under non-organic growing conditions are not always successful in organic and other low-input systems. The two reports announced today provide recommendations to inform plant-breeding efforts by ranking crops and traits most important to organic farmers.