OSA’s annual research farm field day attracted more than 60 participants to help evaluate and celebrate the fall harvest
Our first annual research farm field day celebrated the fall harvest this week. Farmers, seed companies, Washington State University (WSU) research and education partners, and our local community of gardeners and eaters in Chimicum, Washington, came out to celebrate and taste the fall harvest. We hosted field tours and tastings of more than a dozen crops from our variety trials and participatory plant breeding projects. Farmers and seed companies spent a chilly morning scrutinizing the crops and discussing field research from the 2015 growing season.
One highlight of the morning included farmers, seed companies, and our local food co-op’s produce manager actively participating in plant breeding decisions. They helped select plants that exhibited particular traits in striped roasting peppers. The peppers are a breeding project of NOVIC partner Micheal Mazourek of Cornell University. Growers picked their favorite plants based on yield, strong stature, and attractive variegation on the leaves and fruits. Seed from the peppers will be shipped back to Michael as part of this participatory breeding project.
Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) and Washington State University (WSU) will co-host a screening of Seeds of Time on Sunday, October 25, 2015, at the Rose Theater in Port Townsend, Washington. The film will be followed by a reception and discussion with OSA, WSU, and local seed growers.
Seeds of Time features agriculture pioneer Cary Fowler, who has spent decades educating the public and influencing national and international policy about the dire need to protect global crop diversity. As seed banks crumble and climate change accelerates, Fowler is working tirelessly to protect and expand seed collections around the world to ensure food security now and into the future. He is the former director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust and was influential in the building of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway.
Tickets are $25.00 and can be purchased here. Tickets may be available the day of the event but participants are encouraged to buy tickets early. Continue reading
Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) will host a community field day and variety tasting on October 14, 2015, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Chimacum Farm Collaborative. The event celebrates the first autumn harvest at OSA’s new research farm, which was established earlier this year to serve as the hub of OSA’s Pacific Northwest organic plant breeding and variety trial program. Partners from Washington State University (WSU) will join in the event and share progress of the OSA-WSU Organic Germplasm Consortium, and report on local quinoa breeding efforts.
Two field tours will be offered, beginning at 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. The variety tasting and no-host bar will begin at 5:00 p.m.
Wheat fields in Northern California. Photo credit: Organic Seed Alliance
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing a policy change that should provide more oversight of genetically engineered (GE) wheat planted in experimental field trials, though major improvements to regulations and oversight are still desperately needed.
The amount of acreage growing experimental varieties of GE crops is a long-standing concern of the organic community. Thousands of acres of experimental crops are planted each year.
We know seed and pollen cannot be fully contained in an open-air environment, and that GE traits are found in organic and other non-GE seed, crops, and food, creating a burden and financial risk to those who find their products contaminated. The USDA released data this month on some of these costs, finding what we already knew: that contamination is costing organic farmers millions of dollars. Contamination events sometimes involve experimental crops, as we saw with GE rice in 2006 and with GE wheat in 2013 and 2014, to name just two examples.
Registration for the 8th Organic Seed Growers Conference is now open. We hope you’ll join us for the largest organic seed event in the nation where you’ll learn from more than 60 experts in the fields of organic plant breeding, seed production, seed policy, and more.
We’re honored that Cary Fowler is attending as our conference keynote. Fowler is a pioneer in seed conservation who first inspired me with a book he co-authored on the devastating loss of genetic diversity (Shattering) and has continued to inspire me through his ongoing work to establish policies that address the dire state of public seed collections around the globe. His legacy is captured in a new film, Seeds of Time, and also fits our conference theme of “Cultivating Resilience.” Adapting to changing climates, environmental conditions, and the needs of our farmers and the people they feed can and should begin with seed. There’s much work to do to establish resiliency in our local ecologies, communities, and economies — but, together, we’re making progress.