Seed Stirrings in the Southeast

Agricultural leaders from the Southeast recently convened to lay the groundwork for strengthening the region’s organic seed systems.

Organic Seed Alliance’s advisory services director Dan Hobbs, along with board members Tony Kleese and Ira Wallace, hosted an exploratory meeting in April 2011 with university personnel, extension agents, NGOs, and farmers. Five states were represented in this meeting. Hobbs shared OSA’s past success in supporting the development of regional seed systems that provide for the diverse needs of organic farmers. A brainstorming session followed, where the group identified and discussed the following objectives for this project:

— Building infrastructure to facilitate commercial-scale organic seed production
— Developing new and improved vegetable varieties
— Encouraging better coordination among growers and buyers

Special interest was expressed in breeding for vegetables and cover crops adapted to agricultural conditions of the Southeast, cooperative seed development, and educational opportunities.

The group formed a steering committee to gather more information and make plans for additional meetings and events. OSA is working with the steering committee to design and implement a community seed survey to identify the needs and opportunities for this project. The survey will be distributed this fall, and introductory workshops and scoping meetings are proposed in conjunction with prominent farming conferences this winter.

If you live in the Southeast and want to participate in organic seed system work, contact Dan Hobbs or committee chair Tony Kleese for more information.

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