‘Seeds of Time’ Film Provides Community Discussion on Seed Conservation

Buckwheat seedsOrganic Seed Alliance (OSA) and Washington State University (WSU) will co-host a screening of Seeds of Time on Sunday, October 25, 2015, at the Rose Theater in Port Townsend, Washington. The film will be followed by a reception and discussion with OSA, WSU, and local seed growers.

Seeds of Time features agriculture pioneer Cary Fowler, who has spent decades educating the public and influencing national and international policy about the dire need to protect global crop diversity. As seed banks crumble and climate change accelerates, Fowler is working tirelessly to protect and expand seed collections around the world to ensure food security now and into the future. He is the former director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust and was influential in the building of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway.

Tickets are $25.00 and can be purchased here. Tickets may be available the day of the event but participants are encouraged to buy tickets early. Continue reading

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Special Field Day and Celebration at OSA’s Research Farm

pepper-eval-closeupOrganic Seed Alliance (OSA) will host a community field day and variety tasting on October 14, 2015, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Chimacum Farm Collaborative. The event celebrates the first autumn harvest at OSA’s new research farm, which was established earlier this year to serve as the hub of OSA’s Pacific Northwest organic plant breeding and variety trial program. Partners from Washington State University (WSU) will join in the event and share progress of the OSA-WSU Organic Germplasm Consortium, and report on local quinoa breeding efforts.

Two field tours will be offered, beginning at 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. The variety tasting and no-host bar will begin at 5:00 p.m.

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USDA Proposes More Oversight of GE Wheat: Is it Enough?


Wheat fields in Northern California. Photo credit: Organic Seed Alliance

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing a policy change that should provide more oversight of genetically engineered (GE) wheat planted in experimental field trials, though major improvements to regulations and oversight are still desperately needed.

The amount of acreage growing experimental varieties of GE crops is a long-standing concern of the organic community. Thousands of acres of experimental crops are planted each year.

We know seed and pollen cannot be fully contained in an open-air environment, and that GE traits are found in organic and other non-GE seed, crops, and food, creating a burden and financial risk to those who find their products contaminated. The USDA released data this month on some of these costs, finding what we already knew: that contamination is costing organic farmers millions of dollars. Contamination events sometimes involve experimental crops, as we saw with GE rice in 2006 and with GE wheat in 2013 and 2014, to name just two examples.

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Autumn Newsletter: Cultivating Resilience

mic-orcas-fieldRegistration for the 8th Organic Seed Growers Conference is now open. We hope you’ll join us for the largest organic seed event in the nation where you’ll learn from more than 60 experts in the fields of organic plant breeding, seed production, seed policy, and more.

We’re honored that Cary Fowler is attending as our conference keynote. Fowler is a pioneer in seed conservation who first inspired me with a book he co-authored on the devastating loss of genetic diversity (Shattering) and has continued to inspire me through his ongoing work to establish policies that address the dire state of public seed collections around the globe. His legacy is captured in a new film, Seeds of Time, and also fits our conference theme of “Cultivating Resilience.” Adapting to changing climates, environmental conditions, and the needs of our farmers and the people they feed can and should begin with seed. There’s much work to do to establish resiliency in our local ecologies, communities, and economies — but, together, we’re making progress.

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Organic Silage Corn Trials Featured at Upcoming Field Day


OSA’s organic silage corn trial in 2014

Titus Dairy and Organic Seed Alliance will host a variety trial field day to showcase the 2015 local organic silage corn variety trials. The field day will be held on Wednesday, September 30, 2015, at Titus Dairy in Ferndale, CA.

Field day participants can expect to learn about the goals and methods of the trial, how to conduct their own on-farm variety trials, and which trial varieties might perform best in the area.

Although silage corn is just a small part of the diet of local dairy cows, it is nonetheless an important local crop. Local silage producers face a couple challenges. First, the Ferndale area has a drastically different climate from the major corn producing areas. There are few varieties that are able to mature in the area because of the cool summers. Second, for the past decade or more, the major corn breeding companies have focused on releasing varieties with genetically engineered (GE) traits.

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