At EcoFarm in January, OSA hosted a second California seed stakeholders meeting. More than two dozen seed producers, seed company representatives, university representatives, and seed buyers met to discuss how to improve seed systems in California. Below are a few issues that were identified as needs.
Information Sharing and Mentoring: Many seed producer participants spoke to how the complexity of the seed industry, both in production and marketing, presents a challenge for producers who want to work in new crops or new markets. Seed producers are often geographically separated and have less of a chance to “talk shop.” As a result of the discussion, OSA has launched the California Organic Seed Producers Forum, a listserve that allows seed producers to easily share, ask, and answer questions of one another. Please contact Jared Zystro for more information.
Variety Information Sharing: Many of the farmers present identified the need for information sharing tools for sharing variety performance results. Participants described a “Seed Wiki” where farmers could annotate varieties on-line with information. OSA is working on projects that fill this need. The first project is an addition to eOrganic’s Organic Variety Trial Database. The new system will allow farmers to include comments along with the existing information from formal trials.
Fostering Direct Relationships: A number of farmers at the meeting expressed a desire to directly interact with seed producers. They want to form relationships to share their needs with independent seed producers and potentially enter into custom seed production contracts. Following the stakeholders meeting, Steve Peters of Seed Revolution has been organizing farmer / seed purchaser groups in the Capay Valley and the San Juan Bautista / Hollister area to identify their needs and connect them with custom seed from organic seed producers.