Give Thanks for Organic Seed and for those Who Breed It!

Minnesota farmer Martin Diffley in a field of 'Who Gets Kissed?' organic sweet corn

Minnesota farmer Martin Diffley in a field of ‘Who Gets Kissed?’ organic sweet corn

This post by Organic Seed Alliance was originally published by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. It is part of a blog series devoted to exploring the importance of seed to sustainable food and farming systems. To read the first post in their series, click here.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, whether you’re looking for organically grown squash or green beans, there’s an important piece of the organic supply chain that is responsible for bringing that product to your table: organic seed.

And federal research policy plays a big role in the number and quality of organic varieties that are developed each year to meet the needs of organic farmers and the communities they serve.

Just as consumers have an important role to play in supporting a more sustainable farming system with the purchasing decisions they make (such as whether or not to buy organic or local or grassfed), so do the farmers growing our food – including the decision of which seed they sow on their farms.

The food we eat every day ultimately begins with seed, and with the people who steward this living, natural resource: plant breeders, including farmers, who take advantage of the best research to ensure the people growing our food have the seed they need to be successful. When they do, we all benefit.

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A Few Dollars Each Month Can Sow a Lot of Good

nash-appeal-pbsemailOrganic Seed Alliance was recently featured in Growing a Greener World, an award-winning show on public television that showcases organic food and farming. We hope you’ll watch the full episode, “The Seed Farmer,” to learn more about our innovative approach to protecting and improving organic seed diversity.

In this episode, you’ll hear from Washington State farmer Nash Huber, who explains how his plant breeding partnership with OSA allows him to adapt his crops to his organic farm and regional conditions. “I can do it,” Nash says, “because I know how to grow cabbage. I know how to grow carrots. But I don’t know how to breed them. So the partnership with OSA is key.”

As Joe Lamp’l, executive producer of Growing a Greener World, shared with viewers: “Without the help and partnership of OSA with our farmers, we lose a lot of seed and crop varieties that are critical for biodiversity and so much more.”

Will you help us build more partnerships that deliver seed developed by and for organic farmers?

A few dollars each month can add up to a generous annual donation. Please consider a tax-deductible monthly gift today. We are so grateful for your support!

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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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