Earlier this month, OSA’s John Navazio and Laurie McKenzie gathered at Greenbank Farm with a group of enthusiastic farmers, students, interns, and instructors to teach a course on breeding self-pollinated crops. Greenbank Farm is a community-founded nonprofit that manages 151 acres of publicly-owned space and a historic farm located on Whidbey Island in Washington. OSA and Greenbank Farm have worked on a number of collaborative projects over the years.
Participants learned basic biological requirements for plant breeding and seed production, and specifically how to work with self-pollinating crops. In this course, like other courses we offer, participants learned through both classroom lecture and time in the field. We offer these specialized courses throughout the country as part of our work to strengthen regional seed systems.
This course was made possible through a Washington State Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops Block Grant that is also funding an onion and endive trial collaboratively hosted by OSA and our partners at Greenbank Farm.
Summer sweet corn: Is there anything better? How about a sweet corn that was developed with organic farmers in mind — an open-pollinated variety that germinates in cool spring conditions without the use of fungicides and demonstrates superb taste?
Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) is a proud collaborator in a participatory plant breeding project that developed just that. In partnership with breeders at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and farmer-breeder Martin Diffley of Organic Farming Works, OSA is taking this soon-to-be-released sweet corn variety to the next level by adapting the original breeding population to the mild growing conditions of the maritime Pacific Northwest region.
With support from the Port Townsend Food Co-op, OSA’s breeders planted a large trial in Sequim, WA, to identify which of these sweet corn plants would thrive in our local climate.
Why is this important? This sweet corn trial is just one example of how regional networks of plant breeders and farmers are supporting national efforts to expand farmer options in organically bred seed — seed that will deliver high-quality crops without the assistance of synthetic fertilizers and other chemical inputs.