Learn How to Breed Crops in Montana


Adrienne Shelton discusses ‘Who Gets Kissed?’ sweet corn with Doug Baty of Wild Plum Farm in Dixon, Montana — one of the September field tour sites.

Join the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC) for a two-day classroom and field-based course on plant breeding from September 13 – 14, 2016.

NOVIC is a multi-state partnership between farmers and researchers to address the plant breeding needs of organic agriculture in the Northern U.S. The collaborative includes more than 30 organic farmers and nine researchers.

These nationally renowned organic plant breeders from the University of Wisconsin, Cornell University, Oregon State University, and Organic Seed Alliance will lead this course at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana, and on five participating farms in Western Montana’s Mission Valley: Fresh Roots Farm, Polson; Good Egg Farm, Moiese; Foothill Farm, St. Ignatius; Wild Plum Farm, Dixon; and Deluge Farm, Camas Prairie. A full schedule will be published soon.

Participants will learn basic principles to evaluate, develop, improve, and maintain plant varieties for their farm. Topics of instruction include: conducting variety trials, setting breeding goals, developing breeding plans, choosing parents, and breeding cross-pollinating and self-pollinating crops.

The course is intended for farmers, researchers, and agricultural students. Prior experience in basic seed growing is recommended. Participants are encouraged to review Organic Seed Alliance’s online tutorials on seed saving and production before the course.

Registration is required and will open in July. Contact OSA’s Kiki Hubbard with questions.

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OSA’s Brook Brouwer to Join WSU Extension

brookOrganic Seed Alliance is pleased to announce that Research and Education Associate Brook Brouwer will soon join Washington State University as its Director of San Juan County Extension.

In his new position, Brouwer will continue to support OSA by collaborating on current and pending pulse and grain research, while working to bring OSA’s expertise in organic seed production research and education to stakeholders in San Juan County. OSA’s outreach in San Juan County has helped expand seed growing and variety trials on the islands in recent years and Brouwer’s new position is an opportunity to further develop regional seed systems in San Juan County and Western Washington.

Brouwer’s expertise in breeding small grains and his passion for organic seed has brought great value to OSA’s programs. This past winter he led a regional symposium on organic plant breeding in the Pacific Northwest. A report on the outcomes of this event will be released in June.

“Working for OSA was the ideal transition from graduate school into the working world of organic seed,” says Brouwer. “I had the opportunity to connect and work with a national community of organic seed producers, plant breeders, and seed and food companies. No other organization acts as such a dedicated convener in the organic seed community.”

Brouwer says he looks forward to building on these partnerships to support the growth of organic seed production in San Juan County and beyond. He starts his new position June 6th, 2016, and can be reached at brook.brouwer@wsu.edu.

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‘The Seed Garden’ receives major book award

The Seed Garden with seal largeThe Seed Garden – the Art and Practice of Seed Saving has been named one of the top five gardening books published in North America in 2015. The award is given annually by the American Horticultural Society (AHS).

The Seed Garden, a collaboration between Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) and Organic Seed Alliance (OSA), was five years in the making and details the seed saving practices for more than 70 crop types. The book was written with the backyard gardener in mind. Seed Savers Exchange published the book, which was authored by OSA’s Micaela Colley and Jared Zystro, and edited by Shanyn Siegel and Lee Buttala. The book was published by Seed Savers Exchange.

“This is a tremendous honor for those of us who are dedicated to protecting our gardening heritage through seed saving,”  SSE Executive Director John Torgrimson said. “This book provides the tools to save heirloom and open-pollinated seeds, a skill that many of us have lost over the years.”

Other 2016 award recipients include:
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Spring Newsletter: Back to the field

mic-conferenceWhat an event! Thanks to those of you who made it to Corvallis, Oregon, last month for our 8th Organic Seed Growers Conference. Participants were diverse, representing 34 states, 10 countries, and 20 universities. In the words of one participant, it was “the most wonderful and inspiring conference I’ve attended in my life!”

And thanks again to our sponsors and co-hosts Oregon State University, Washington State University, and eOrganic.

If you missed our biennial national conference, you can still benefit from the tremendous breadth of knowledge shared there through the conference proceedings and webinars.

Read our newsletter for more highlights from the conference, as well as the latest in OSA’s research, education, and advocacy work.

Happy planting!

Read the full spring newsletter here.


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Purple Sprouting Broccoli Now in Season!

12439277_10154256148477150_4779396781187617401_nIn March, when another serving of kale fails to inspire, purple sprouting broccoli (PSB) pushes from its overwintering state to produce beautiful and tasty florets that will continue to appear until mid-spring. Unlike its late summer, green-headed broccoli cousin, all parts of PSB are delicious, from the individual florets on delicate stem to the tender leaves.

PSB may be new to the Pacific Northwest but this sweet and tender harbinger of spring has been grown in other corners of the world since Roman times. Planted in midsummer, PSB requires the chill of winter to produce its springtime florets. You may ask: Why is PSB just now making its way to the produce section of my grocery store? The varieties of PSB that are commonly available to growers in our region were developed for milder climates and are too sensitive to our cold temperatures that can dip to 14°F (-9°C).

In 2010, OSA and Organically Grown Company began working with Pacific Northwest farmers to develop varieties of PSB that could withstand the variables of winter and thrive once the weather warmed. The result is a locally grown crop that gives our farmers fresh produce to take to market at a time when fields are mostly bare and offers eaters a taste of spring with every delicious bite of purple sprouting broccoli.

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