Farmer Seed Stewardship
Farmers who save and improve seed are innovators in their own right. Their seed decisions and practices impact the quality and integrity of the food we eat, the health of our environment, and the viability of this invaluable natural resource.
The Farmer Seed Stewardshipinitiative recognizes farmers as seed innovators. The initiative is a partnership between Organic Seed Alliance and Seed Matters, and advances education, research, and advocacy to support farmers’ ability to save, breed, and produce seed for on-farm and commercial use. The initiative works toward three goals:
- Promote the role of farmers as seed stewards
- Protect a farmer's ability to save and improve seed
- Propagate seed stewards through education and training
Promote the role of farmers as seed stewards
The Farmer Seed Stewardship initiative involves a network of farmers who identify themselves as seed stewards. These farmers recognize seed as an invaluable natural resource and their role as stewards of seed and seed knowledge. We invite farmers working with seed to join the network and help us pay tribute to – and track through the Farmer Seed Stewardship map! – the growing seed stewardship movement.
OSA showcases stories from the field to inspire a new direction for seed system development, and build alliances and regional networks for more farmers to engage in seed projects on their farm and in their communities.
The future of seed rests in the hands of farmers. A farmer's decision to plant certain varieties or engage in seed saving impacts the quality and integrity of the food we eat. These decisions also affect the health of our soil, water, and other natural resources.
The Farmer Seed Stewardship initiative represents a network of farmers who identify themselves as "seed stewards." To join the network, you must be a farmer who produces, saves, or improves at least one seed variety on your farm for commercial production or on-farm use. You may also be a farmer who conducts on-farm research or variety trials.
Why join the Farmer Seed Stewardship network? Farmers who join the network will be pinned on our map and receive a complimentary seed publication. They will also lend an important voice to seed policy initiatives and be linked into other seed producer networking opportunities, including invitations to regional events.
Protect a farmer’s ability to save and improve seed
A farmer’s ability to save and improve seed is fundamental to protecting crop genetic diversity and food security. Farmers play a vital role in expanding seed options in their communities and the broader seed marketplace, including the choice to plant seed free of genetically engineered traits. Furthermore, policies that support careful management of seed as a public resource help safeguard our rich crop genetic legacy.
OSA advocates for policies that support farmers as seed stewards, protect seed integrity, and advance breeding for organic and low-input farming systems.
Propagate seed stewards through education and training
The conservation of crop genetic resources must be coupled with the expansion and preservation of seed knowledge to meet both present day needs and those of future generations. Integrated approaches to seed system development shows that healthy ecological and social relationships can provide resiliency and strength for meeting the diverse needs of farmers and the communities they serve. Farmers need education in seed production and crop improvement skills, and networks and tools for connecting with potential markets and customer bases.
OSA trains farmers in on-farm seed production and breeding, and conducts organic seed needs assessments to identify priorities at the regional level in plant breeding, education, and seed production and distribution.
Read OSA’s Southeast Organic Seed Stakeholders Survey (opens to PDF)
About Seed Matters
The Farmer Seed Stewardship initiative is a partnership between Organic Seed Alliance and Seed Matters. Seed Matters is an initiative of the Clif Bar Family Foundation designed to improve and protect organic seed to ensure an adequate supply of productive crops for the health of people and the planet. Seed Matters directs its support toward organic seed research and education projects that conserve crop diversity, protect farmers’ roles and rights as seed innovators and stewards, and reinvigorate public seed research and education.
“OSA is a convener, partner, and leader in creating the alternative -- a regionally based seed system by us and for us. Collaboration in their spinach breeding work has given me hands-on experience through which I've gained both skills and confidence as a seed grower.”
Common Ground Farm