We take a regional approach to seed system development – from breeding to seed production to distribution. A successful regional network results in farmers having access to reliable information and education that allows them to:
- Identify the best currently available varieties for their farms
- Learn how to improve currently available varieties or breed new varieties
- Develop skills to produce seed for commercial or on-farm use
- Build networks for increasing access to high-quality organic seed
Farmers constantly face changing disease, insect, and weed pressures that vary by region. Climate, growing seasons, soils, and water availability also all affect crop growth and differ dramatically across the U.S. The best way to meet regional seed needs is to adapt plants to the environment of their intended use. Farmer access to regionally adapted seed is paramount to the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture regardless of whether their market is local, national, or international.
Managing crop diversity at the regional level also improves national and global food security for our growing population. While a major outcome of our research and education work is improved seed for organic farms, regional seed networks also serve as reservoirs of genetically diverse seed. On-farm seed stewardship is critical to both conservation and improvement of seed diversity for a secure food future.