Last week OSA board members and staff attended a field day at Nash’s Organic Produce where we observed OSA’s participatory plant breeding work on red curly kale. Over the last ten years, Nash Huber has been developing a variety of open-pollinated red kale that demonstrates cold hardiness, attractive leaves, general disease resistance, and tender eating and good flavor. We learned that crossing kale with Brussel sprouts allowed for the tall stature demonstrated in his red kale plants, which makes harvesting easier and keeps leaves above wet ground. OSA appreciates Organic Farming Research Foundation’s contribution to this project.
The next day we visited Midori Farm and talked with farmers and OSA senior scientist John Navazio about season extension projects for chicories (escarole, endive, and radicchio) and chard. The genetic diversity within a single radicchio variety — splashes of color versus all-green, curling versus flat leaves — was beautiful and instructive, serving as a reminder of the need to carefully manage genetic resources in a way that allows seed to continue to evolve with our changing environment and agricultural practices. Midori Farm is home to various NOVIC field trials.
Pictured above in a field of red kale from left to right: Nash Huber (Nash’s Organic Produce), John Navazio (OSA’s senior scientist), Dan Hobbs (OSA’s Director of Advisory Services), Steve Harris (OSA board member), Beth Benjamin (OSA board member), and Ira Wallace (OSA board member).