Partnering with Greenbank Farm’s Organic Seed Project

greenbankGreenbank Farm, an OSA partner and non-profit educational farm on Whidbey Island, has started the second year of its Organic Seed Project. This project, which is funded through a Washington State Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops Block Grant, aims to encourage new and existing organic farmers in Western Washington to conduct variety trials, save and improve their seed, and network regionally. Project activities include:

•  Offering regional farmers stipends and technical assistance to conduct their own on-farm variety trials.

•  Launching an online organic seed growers discussion group where members can ask questions, answer questions, and share resources and experiences concerning regional organic seed production.

•  Sponsoring regional workshops taught by OSA. This year’s scheduled workshops include:

•  June 16, 2014: Greenbank Farm, On-farm Breeding with Self-pollinated Crops

•  August 2014: Seed Cleaning Workshop (date and location to be announced)

•  Initiating a seed equipment rental program where farmers can affordably rent a small belt thresher and air-screen seed cleaner.

•  Variety trials, seed improvement activities, and field days at the Greenbank Farm.

To learn more about the project and how to participate, click here.

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Seed Producers Database Survey — We Need to Hear From You

Pile of argula seedsOSA is in the process of evaluating, and potentially upgrading, our Seed Producers Database. Whether you’ve used this online tool before or not, please take two minutes to answer this short survey to help us determine the value of this database. As background, this tool was established to serve organic seed producers in search of new contracts and markets for their products and seed companies in search of organic seed producers. Organic farmers looking for bulk quantities of organic seed have also used the database as have growers looking to network with other seed producers in their region or crop focus. By creating a log-in, database members can easily search seed producers by crop type, certified organic versus non-organic, region, type of production, and acreage available for seed crops. If it’s determined that this database is an important networking tool, we will quickly move forward with necessary upgrades and promotion to ensure its success and wide use. Thank you for taking two minutes to answer our short survey.

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Spring in California

Jared Zystro_CA Sweet Corn Trial_2011It’s a busy spring for OSA in California. As part of our long-term plan for California, and in response to comments gathered at two California seed stakeholder meetings held at EcoFarm and our Organic Seed Growers Conference, we are undertaking a number of projects in 2014 to help California seed growers connect and succeed. These projects include:

1. An expanded California organic seed growers listserve with more members and regular activities to help seed growers learn from each other and collaborate on work.

2. A seed equipment wiki where OSA staff, producers, and other experts can create detailed information on crop and scale-appropriate [delete comma] seed production, processing, and cleaning equipment.

3. A larger California organic variety trial network, including trials that OSA is directly managing, as well as on-farm trials that we are supporting through consultations. Right now we have carrot, beets, spinach, and wheat trials in the ground, with pepper and onion trials being planted in the next month.

4. A California organic seed growers symposium to be held this winter. This will be an in-depth meeting where producers can share and learn from each other and from experts in the field of organic seed production.

If you grow or buy seed in California and want to get involved with our work this year, contact Jared Zystro, our California Research and Education Specialist.

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OSA Anniversary Address by Matthew Dillon

The 7th Organic Seed Growers Conference drew a record turnout, with 450 participants attending the event in Corvallis, Oregon, from January 30 – February 1, 2014, and an additional 400 people joining the conference via live webinar.

OSA co-founder, Matthew Dillon, who is now the Clif Bar Family Foundation’s director of Seed Matters and senior agriculture policy & programs manager, presented a 10-year anniversary address on Friday evening of the conference. His address stirred the hearts and minds of participants and is now available online to inspire us for the next 10 years of our work. Thanks to Matthew for planting OSA’s roots and for continuing to feed the broader organic seed community with his passion, vision, and wisdom.

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A Letter From Our Director

broccoli_mic2_smallInspirational. Professional. Scientific.

These are just a few words used by participants to describe our 7th Organic Seed Growers Conference held in Corvallis, Oregon, this past January. (Read more reviews and highlights here.) Thanks again to our generous sponsors as well as our co-hosts, Oregon State University, Washington State University, and eOrganic.

If you were one of the 450 in attendance, please fill out our short evaluation. And if you couldn’t attend, get a healthy dose of the research and conversations shared by listening to eOrganic’s webinar archive and downloading our conference proceedings, which include more than 50 papers. Don’t miss the keynote address delivered by High Mowing Organic Seeds founder Tom Stearns and a special anniversary address by OSA co-founder Matthew Dillon. These talks are sure to stir your heart and mind.

We’ll be posting our 2016 Organic Seed Growers Conference dates soon, and mark your calendars for the next Organicology conference: February 5 – 7, 2015.

Read on for more news from OSA. We’ve released three new publications since our last newsletter, all of which support farmers in organic seed production and variety sourcing. And we traveled to Washington, DC, to deliver the important message that public plant breeding is essential to the future of seed and food. You’ll find that we’ve also been fostering regional seed systems in the Northwest through our collaboration with Greenbank Farm.

Our work would not be possible without your support. This spring we’re sending contributors our limited edition ‘Abundant Bloomsdale’ poster (available while supplies last). Please help “seed” our work at whatever level you can afford.

Best wishes this planting season,

Mic Signature



Micaela Colley
Executive Director

Read the full spring 2014 newsletter here.

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