You Can Support Our Seed Stewards

IMG_7732The local, organic food movement has done a tremendous job of making us think about the people and places producing our food. We understand that from field to plate our purchasing decisions matter, and can lead to healthier meals for our families, a healthier planet, and healthier communities.

Farmers growing our food also have an important purchasing decision — the seed they sow. Our food really begins with seed, and with the people who steward seed for the benefit of all. This is the movement Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) works diligently to grow and nurture.

For more than a decade, OSA has worked side by side with farmers to save and improve non-GMO seed on their farms. Our research and education results in new stewards of this invaluable resource and more high-quality organic seed.

Thank you for your support of OSA. Your past donations have helped us train thousands of farmers in seed stewardship.

Take sweet corn, a summertime favorite we all eagerly await. Much of the sweet corn seed planted in the U.S. was developed — and is owned — by the biggest players in the business: Syngenta and Monsanto. Their control of corn reflects the highly consolidated industry, one that puts shareholder profits before the independence of farmers, not to mention the health of people and the planet.

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Who Controls Our Seed? One CA County Will Decide

CA-mapFor more than a decade, local governments across the U.S. have passed resolutions that aim to control the planting of genetically engineered crops. These successes include dozens of towns in New England and several counties in California where GE crops can no longer be grown.

Humboldt County is the latest community to consider a ban on GE crop plantings. Tomorrow voters will decide whether to pass such a ban through Measure P.

As of last week, the stakes are higher, thanks to a bill passed by the California legislature and signed into law by the governor. The bill, AB 2470, prohibits local governments from enacting new plant or seed regulations without the state’s permission. The bill doesn’t take effect, however, until January 1, whereas Measure P would take effect immediately.

Similar pre-emption bills have been passed in at least 15 states, and are a backdoor strategy by the biotech and chemical industry to beat back local ordinances and state bills that aim to limit the proliferation of their products. Organizers of GE crop bans — and other GE legislation, such as GMO food labeling — introduce these measures to address the serious shortcomings and gaps in current U.S. policy.

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Upcoming Fundamentals of Seed Production and Variety Improvement Course

pepper-evalsWelton Farm and Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) will host a Fundamentals of Seed Production and Variety Improvement course on Saturday, October 18, 2014, at Welton Farm in Gilroy, CA.

Organic Seed Alliance’s Jared Zystro and Steve Peters will teach this daylong course where participants will learn fundamental skills for developing and adapting varieties to their organic farm and tour OSA pepper trials in the field.  Topics of instruction include: the biology of seed production, seed harvesting and cleaning, choosing appropriate seed crops for your system and climate, maintaining the genetic integrity of varieties with appropriate population sizes and isolation distances, conducting variety trials, and basic on-farm breeding techniques. Prior experience in basic seed growing is recommended.

The course will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 18, 2014. Cost per participant is $50.00 and includes the daylong course as well as a light lunch. Welton Farm is located at 10385 Watsonville Rd, Gilroy, California, 95020.

Register for the course today.

This daylong course is being offered at a discounted rate thanks to support from Columbia Foundation and Gaia Fund.

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Upcoming Seed Harvest Techniques and Equipment Workshop

seed-screen-idaho2013Join OSA and Greenbank Farm at next week’s Seed Harvesting Techniques and Equipment Workshop on Monday, October 6, 2014, at Greenbank Farm in Greenbank, WA.

OSA’s Micaela Colley and Laurie McKenzie will lead demonstrations of both small equipment and hand scale threshing and cleaning, including the use of an Almaco small belt thresher and Clipper air-screen seed cleaner (now available for rent to regional growers through Greenbank Farm). The workshop will cover a wide range of vegetable crops and discussion on how regional growers can most effectively harvest and clean their seed crops at a range of scales.

Greenbank Farm is located at 765 Wonn Road, A201, in Greenbank, Washington. The workshop will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday, October 6, 2014. The workshop cost is $5.00 per person and re-registration is preferred.

Register for the workshop today.

This workshop is funded through the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

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Inspiration in “Community Breeding”

carrot-tableFrom purple carrots to black tomatoes, plant breeders and seed companies showcased their upcoming new varieties to farmers and chefs at yesterday’s first Culinary Breeding Network (CBN) Variety Showcase in Portland, Oregon. CBN’s Lane Selman envisioned an event that would bring together eaters, growers, and plant breeders to form “community breeding”. The showcase did just that by including over 100 breeders, seed companies, farmers, and chefs in an evening of collaborative discussions and variety tastings.

OSA researchers Micaela Colley and Laurie McKenzie conducted a taste test of orange, purple, and yellow carrots from the Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture (CIOA) project. In addition, participants dined on carrot cake made from ‘Nash’s Best’ carrots and pickled carrots prepared by chef Joseph from Portland’s Ava Gene’s.

OSA also shared participatory farmer-bred varieties from Nash’s Organic Produce for tasting. Showcase participants sampled flavorful red and green curly kale and a white romanesco cauliflower that Nash originally received from farmer-breeder outside of Turin, Italy.

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