Seed and Plant Exchange to be Held March 29th

Photo by Trav Williams, Broken Banjo Photography, www.BrokenBanjo.netFarmers and gardeners are invited to join OSA’s Jared Zystro and share rare and locally grown seeds, starts, and plants at the upcoming Humboldt Permaculture Guild’s 16th Annual Seed and Plant Exchange. The exchange is taking place on Saturday, March 29, 2014, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Arcata Community Center.

More than 1,300 people attended last year’s event and this year’s is expected to be even larger. Participants will have the opportunity to visit seed exchange tables, where farmers, gardeners, and seed companies donate free seed to use in the garden.

Participants will have the opportunity to attend workshops, hear live music, enjoy hot food, and take part in a raffle of local goods. There will also be kid-friendly activities.

Workshops include talks and hands-on educational opportunities, including:

• Soil Sleuthing: A Do-It-Yourself Soil Investigation taught by The Dirty Business Divas at 12:00 p.m.
• Seed Saving taught by Kalan Redwood of Redwood Seed company at 1:00 p.m.
• Fruit Tree Grafting taught by Mark DuPont of Sandy Bar Ranch at 2:00 p.m.
• Rainwater Harvesting and Catchment taught by Dan Mar of High Tide Permaculture at 3:00 p.m.

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Limited Edition Posters Now Available

Support Organic Seed Alliance this spring and we’ll send you a limited edition poster (see below) for gifts of $25 and more. Posters are available until we run out!

Help us build regional, organic seed systems with a tax-deductable contribution. Your financial support helps us promote the ethical development and stewardship of seed through research, education, and advocacy. Organic Seed Alliance is a 501 (c)(3) organization, so your donation is tax deductible.

Your contribution allows us to:

•  Enhance seed choices for farmers by breeding new organic varieties

•  Educate thousands of farmers annually, expanding on-farm knowledge in seed saving, seed production, and organic plant breeding;

•  Advocate for policies that protect farmers’ rights as seed stewards and the integrity of the seed they sow

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Tasting Cabbage and Talking Seed

IMG_2666OSA hosted a variety tasting and discussion as part of last week’s Farmer-Fisher-Chef Connection (F2C2) in Seattle, Washington. OSA convened food growers, buyers, and eaters at the event to taste test six varieties of winter cabbage and discuss breeding and seed needs of the Pacific Northwest.

Taste test participants provided input on flavor, texture, and overall eating qualities of several overwintered cabbages varieties. Tasters reported varieties varied on a spectrum from spicy/mustard, sweet, bland, crunchy, and soft. Discussions focused on increasing education about the source of seed and promoting regionally adapted varieties to customers.

The farmer who grew the cabbage for the tastings, Sam McCullough of Nash’s Organic Produce, shared with the group why on-farm variety trials are important in their operation and what they are looking for in a high-quality cabbage. McCullough emphasized that the Pacific Northwest is one of the best places to grow cabbage on earth, but it is hard to find a good open-pollinated varieties from which growers can save seed.

The event was the first in a series of farmer-chef networking and tasting events OSA is hosting over the next three years with support from Washington State Department of Agriculture and Oregon State Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops grants.

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California Organic Wheat Variety Trial Results Available

2013_CA_North_Coast_Organic_Wheat_TrialsOrganic Seed Alliance released a new report today with results from its 2013 organic wheat variety trials conducted in California. Helping growers identify appropriate varieties is key to increasing the production and profitability of organic wheat on the North Coast of California. This region-specific resource is the first of its kind.

The 2013 California North Coast Organic Wheat Trials report is available for free download here.

Organic wheat is a rapidly expanding specialty crop in California. According to the 2009 organic survey from the USDA Economic Research Service, organic wheat acreage increased 50-fold in California between 1997 and 2008, from 727 to 36,115 acres, respectively. The demand appears to only be growing.

The report also includes results from a grower survey conducted to inform the 2013 variety trials and easy-to-use scorecards of each variety studied in the trial. The analysis includes data on data on plant height, yield, moisture, protein, and other characteristics, as well as informal baking trials on harvested wheat.

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New Survey: Organic Farmers Pay the Price for GMO Contamination

canolaflower110203_ARSWe know contamination is a huge problem for farmers who don’t grow genetically engineered (GE) crops. With one day left for the public to submit comments to the USDA on “coexistence”Food & Water Watch in partnership with the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM) has released survey results that clearly show contamination from GMO crops is happening and it’s non-GMO farmers who are paying the price.

Read the survey results: Organic Farmers Pay the Price for GMO Contamination (opens to PDF).

The survey of farmers across 17 states, but primarily in the Midwest, is an effort to fill the data gap that was used to justify an inadequate policy recommendation by the USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21). Heavily weighted with biotech proponents, the committee gathered for a series of meetings in 2011 and 2012 to establish a protocol for coexistence and to design a compensation mechanism for farmers who are economically harmed by contamination from GMO crops. Unfortunately, the committee was unable to estimate the costs associated with GMO presence on non-GMO and organic farms due to a lack of data. Their final suggestion for a compensation mechanism was a form of crop insurance that included, in one proposal, a premium to be paid by producers of non-GMO crops.

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