Organic Seed Alliance hosted the 3rd annual California Organic Seed Summit last month in Montara. The retreat provided an intimate and informal environment for seed producers, breeders, and seed company representatives to connect, share information, and discuss collective actions to advance ethical seed systems in California.
The 34 summit participants engaged in many ways. Growers helped each other troubleshoot production challenges; seed buyers and producers shared their expectations and processes around seed contracts; and plant breeders from OSA, university programs, and private efforts discussed their projects in California. Participants brought small-scale seed cleaning equipment acquired or built by regional tool-sharing hubs supported by OSA.
OSA’s Laurie McKenzie and Micaela Colley harvesting carrots in El Centro
This past week OSA researchers, Laurie McKenzie and Micaela Colley, joined Dr. Phil Simon and his research team in El Centro, CA, (just north of the Mexico border) to select carrot roots for seed production and breeding. They selected roots from approximately 1,000 different populations, representing a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes for this season’s breeding efforts. Carrot is a biennial crop, producing roots in the first year and seed in the second. Access to a production field in a warm winter climate such as El Centro (also called a winter nursery) provides the opportunity to select roots in the winter and produce seed in the summer, allowing researchers to complete a full cycle of breeding in one year instead of two.
Dr. Simon, the lead researcher of the Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture (CIOA) project, worked with the OSA team to identify and select roots from a vast rainbow of colors in addition to orange bunching types with priority traits for organic farmers such as delicious flavor, crisp and juicy texture, disease and nematode resistance, and tall tops for weed competition. Dr. Simon, with over 35 years of experience, still tastes nearly every selected root before deciding which to keep and which to toss out.
Calling all organic seed producers and students! Applications are being accepted for the Seed Internship Program. The Seed Internship Program combines online and classroom learning, farm-based independent study, and real-world experience through a diverse network of family farms. Hosted by Organic Seed Alliance and the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA), the Seed Internship Program matches individuals who want to learn about seed production with experienced growers.
Learn more and apply today Continue reading
Join the Tomato Organic Management and Improvement (TOMI) project and eOrganic for two online webinars this month focused on organic tomato production. The first in this two-part live-broadcast series will be held on March 7th at 2:00 p.m. Eastern and the second will be held on March 30th at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Both webinars are free and open to the public. Pre-registration is required.
TOMI is a multi-state project working to develop new tomato varieties that are resistant to the most problematic diseases facing organic tomato growers while maintaining exceptional flavor that customers expect. Learn more about the project here. Continue reading
Organic Seed Alliance’s (OSA) Southern California Seed Hub and Wild Willow Farm & Education Center will host a one-day training in San Diego, California, on March 19, 2017. The workshop, which will run from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., will teach farmers how to incorporate seed production into their diversified farm plan. Space is limited so interested participants are encouraged to register by March 17 at http://tinyurl.com/spwsocal.
OSA’s Steve Peters and Wild Willow Farm’s Paul Maschka 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.
The training is intended for farmers, researchers, and agricultural students. Prior experience in seed growing is recommended. Participants are encouraged to review OSA’s publications and tutorials before the course at www.seedalliance.org/publications.