OSA is a proud organizational partner of Seed Matters, a Clif Bar Family Foundation initiative that funds projects that conserve crop diversity, protect farmers’ roles and rights as seed innovators and stewards, and reinvigorate public seed research and education.
We’re excited to share a recent announcement from the initiative: Seed Matters has awarded the first fellowships in organic plant breeding ever granted in the United States. That’s right, the foundation issued $375,000 in grants to fund three Ph.D. fellowship students for five years in organic plant breeding at two public land grant universities.
Seed Matters’ investment in the next generation of organic plant breeders could not be timelier.
Historically, land grant universities provided well for the diverse needs of farmers. But as concentration and intellectual property controls expand, innovation stagnates, and minor markets such as organic do not receive needed investments in seed system development. Only a small number of private companies and public universities are actively breeding organic crops. As a result, organic farmers are underserved in seed adapted to their cropping systems and regions, and experience a basic lack of availability of organic seed.
The benefits of improving the quantity and quality of organic seed goes beyond farmer choice. “Organic seed systems are the underlying foundation for healthy resilient farming and food systems,” said Matthew Dillon, cultivator of Seed Matters (and OSA’s founder). “Seed is a farmer’s first line of defense against pests and global climate disruption, and has a huge impact on the nutrition and overall quality of the food we eat.”
Seed Matters also announced that several companies have joined the initiative as financial collaborators to help increase awareness about organic seed and fund future fellowships and research, including: Earthbound Farm Organic, Organically Grown Company, Organic Valley, Vitalis Seed and Whole Foods Market.