This year, OSA celebrates a landmark anniversary. It’s hard to believe that after ten years we have already established ourselves as the primary organization in the U.S. working to expand a national organic seed system through regional models of collaborative research, education, and advocacy.
Our anniversary reminds us of our origins and the ongoing urgency for the preservation of seed knowledge that led to our birth. On August 4, 2003, a fire consumed the offices of Abundant Life Seed Foundation in Port Townsend, Washington. Lost was a seed collection of more than 2,300 varieties that had been built and conserved over the course of three decades. The fire left the community and staff heartbroken.
Though most of the seed collection was destroyed, the foundation still had the network of farmers who helped develop it. In fact, those farmers had about 150 varieties in their fields when the fire hit. And that network represented an important truth: that protecting seed diversity also requires protecting the knowledge necessary to grow and steward seed. In 2003 Abundant Life was already striving to fulfill the need for education on seed production and farmer-based plant breeding. The fire brought the organization to a tipping point. Within months, this realization led to the founding of Organic Seed Alliance. Today we partner with several seed preservation organizations, bringing the seed knowledge necessary to carry seed diversity forward.
We’re proud of our fiery roots and accomplishments, which include teaching hundreds of courses, publishing more than a dozen professional seed guides, hosting the nation’s only organic seed conference, and influencing critical policy.
In light of our anniversary, we’ve launched a new website that makes it even easier to download our guides, register for events, receive timely news, and more. Take a look, and let us know what you think. And don’t miss our anniversary timeline that highlights some of our accomplishments.
I’m also happy to announce that registration for our 7th Organic Seed Growers Conference is now open. We hope you’ll join us from January 30 – February 1, 2014, in Corvallis, Oregon, to trade knowledge, techniques, and ideas that strengthen our rapidly growing organic seed community. Our theme, Innovation in the Field, is woven throughout agenda sessions focused on plant breeding, seed production, policy and advocacy, and the economics of seed production and enterprise development.
After ten years, we remain true to our mission, and farmers are still at the heart of our work. As our founders were reminded through the 2003 fire, seed is best managed in the hands of many, not in the hands of a few. Please join us in creating the alternative, which includes building regional seed models that support farmers in operating as seed innovators.
We wouldn’t be celebrating ten years of success without the support of our community, which is why we hope you’ll join us for our anniversary celebration on October 26, 2013, in Port Townsend. In honor of our ten-year anniversary, attendees will receive a packet of ‘Abundant Bloomsdale‘ spinach seed. It’s our first official variety release. And it’s a small thank you for helping us grow not just seed, but a thriving organization.