Spring 2016 Newsletter
Your Donation to OSA Will be Matched on May 3rd!
Seed Allies Gather at 2nd Annual California Seed Summit
Variety Trials Improve Winter Food Availability
Purple Sprouting Broccoli Now in Season
Inspired by a Rainbow of Carrots
New Seed Internship Program
Weigh in on Organic Seed Policy by April 14
Organic Seed Growers Conference Draws Hundreds of Participants
Webinars from the 8th Organic Seed Growers Conference Available
And the Award Goes to...'The Seed Garden'!
Read All About It: OSA in the News
OSA is thrilled to participate in this year's GiveBIG campaign on Tuesday, May 3rd. This annual event is hosted by Seattle Foundation and is part of a larger collective giving strategy to raise money for nonprofits throughout the Pacific Northwest. This charitable campaign is for 24 hours only! This is a matching campaign so it's a great opportunity to make your tax-deductible donation to OSA go further!
Starting on April 18th, you can schedule a donation for GiveBIG on our campaign page.
California seed producers, seed companies, and their allies met for the second annual California Seed Summit earlier this month. This year's summit focused on marketing, information sharing, seed equipment, plant breeding, and economic opportunities for growing and selling organic seed. Participants also helped direct OSA's new California seed hub planning (part of a California Specialty Crop Block Grant) by prioritizing which seed tools should be purchased by the hub for equipment sharing and how to best focus new organic seed marketing and database efforts. Participants formed working groups charged with purchasing equipment for the sharing program, developing a common marketing strategy, creating online information sharing tools, and planning the 2017 summit. If you are involved in organic seed production or distribution in California, and want to participate in a working group or join us at next year's summit, contact Jared Zystro.
OSA's Pacific Northwest research team is conducting the final year of evaluations from our Washington Specialty Crop Block Grant that focuses on winter food availability. These field trials include overwintered chicories and purple sprouting broccoli (PSB), and storage onions and cabbage. Chicory and PSB harvests and evaluations are still in full swing.
Participants at our 8th Organic Seed Growers Conference had the opportunity to taste chicory and cabbages from these trials and give feedback. Six chicory varieties were tasted raw side-by-side and showcased in a salad that paired the chicories with raw 'Black Futsu' winter squash. The tasting also included six different cabbage varieties both raw and as sauerkraut. Field evaluations and tasting feedback will be summarized in a variety trial report later this year.
In March, when another serving of kale fails to inspire, purple sprouting broccoli (PSB) pushes from its overwintering state to produce beautiful and tasty florets that will continue to appear until mid-spring.
PSB may be new to the Pacific Northwest but this sweet and tender harbinger of spring has been grown in other corners of the world since Roman times. Planted in midsummer, PSB requires the chill of winter to produce its springtime florets. You may ask: Why is PSB just now making its way to the produce section of my grocery store? The varieties of PSB that are commonly available to growers in our region were developed for milder climates and are too sensitive to our cold temperatures.
In 2010, OSA and Organically Grown Company began working with Pacific Northwest farmers to develop varieties of PSB that could withstand the variables of winter and thrive once the weather warmed. The result is a locally grown crop that gives farmers fresh produce to take to market at a time when fields are mostly bare, offering a taste of spring with every delicious bite of purple sprouting broccoli.
Find a special recipe for Cashew-miso roasted purple sprouting broccoli and radishes here.
Earlier this month, OSA's Laurie McKenzie joined Dr. Phil Simon and his research team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in El Centro, California, to evaluate over 1,700 trial plots of colored carrots. Dr. Simon grows an extensive winter nursery at the U.S. Department of Agriculture research station in El Centro each year for evaluation, selection, and research purposes. OSA has participated in the annual evaluation for the past four years as a partner in the Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture (CIOA) project. Inspired by the collection, OSA has been including novel colored germplasm from Simon's collection in Washington trials, much to the delight of local farmers and chefs. CIOA project partners have identified several populations of colored and orange carrots and aim to release commercial varieties within the next five years.
Learn more about CIOA in this new video.
OSA and the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA) are proud to announce the launch of the Seed Internship Program, the first of its kind in the U.S. The program matches individuals who want to learn about seed production with experienced seed farmers. The internships combine hands-on education, farm-based independent study, and classroom and online learning.
The Seed Internship Program emphasizes training in organic seed production given ongoing gaps in the supply. While demand for organic seed is high, there is currently a lack of trained growers. Seed companies report that they struggle to find enough producers to fulfill their organic seed supply needs. This program aims to address this lack of training by growing a network of organic seed farmers who are willing to provide seed interns real-world experience in organic seed production, business planning, and other skills.
As part of this program, OSA will provide a webinar series for participating interns and curriculum for participating farms to provide structure to each internship.
Learn more and apply to the program here.
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is looking for feedback on two important policy discussions underway related to organic seed: excluded methods and seed purity. An excluded methods proposal aims to clarify terminology and identify breeding methods that may be inappropriate for organic seed development. The NOSB also published a third excluded methods discussion document asking for input from the organic community on additional technologies and terms. And, third, the board is asking for input on another discussion document that outlines next steps for improving seed purity. Find these discussion documents and the excluded methods proposal here. The NOSB is meeting in Washington, DC, from April 25 - 27, and is accepting public comments on these and other documents through April 14. Submit comments here. Learn more about the meeting, including the full agenda, here. The National Organic Coalition will also be hosting its pre-NOSB meeting on April 24.
OSA's 8th Organic Seed Growers Conference drew a record turnout with more than 500 participants attending the event in Corvallis, Oregon, from February 4 - 6, 2016, and an additional 330 people joining the conference via live webinar. More than 80 experts presented on specific topics under the categories of organic plant breeding, organic seed production, enterprise development, and policy. Cary Fowler delivered an inspiring and hopeful keynote address. Fowler is the former director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust and helped create the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
This year's conference theme -- Cultivating Resilience -- reflected the urgency of developing biologically diverse seed systems that weather the impacts of unstable climates and dwindling natural resources. It also spoke to the need for increasing the diversity of stakeholders and innovators engaged in seed systems to discourage concentrated market power and ownership of seed -- a public, natural resource that demands careful stewardship.
Kicking off the conference was a daylong intensive for new farmers interested in learning about organic seed production. Another pre-conference event involved more than 100 participants loading buses to tour organic plant breeding projects throughout the Willamette Valley.
Read more highlights from the 8th Organic Seed Growers Conference here.
Webinar sessions from the 8th Organic Seed Growers Conference held February 4 - 6, 2016, in Corvallis, Oregon, are now available online. The webinar series includes the following sessions: State of Organic Seed; What Indigenous Farmers Taught Me About Building Seed and Food Sovereignty; Seed Economics; Vegetable Breeding Research Updates; Organic Cover Crop Seed Production; Vegetable Seed Production: Scaling Up; Managing Seed Borne Pathogens; and a Seed Production Intensive. Many thanks to conference co-host eOrganic for recording these webinars!
Watch archived webinar sessions here.
The Seed Garden, authored by OSA's Micaela Colley and Jared Zystro, and published by Seed Savers Exchange, is one of five garden books to receive a 2016 book award from the American Horticultural Society. The book is described by award committee members as "the only book people will need to grow plants and save seed" and "an indispensable, brilliantly written, and beautifully illustrated resource." Learn more about the award here, and order your copy today!
A Way to Garden How to grow spinach, with Tom Stearns "Starting maybe five or six years ago, Organic Seed Alliance dusted this seed off, and started to select it, grow it with the different farmers, and get feedback to try to create this really, really vigorous and heavily savoyed, dark green..." read full article.
Organic Matters A passionate and seedy weekend in Oregon "The conference theme was 'Cultivating Resilience' in the state of organic seed. Resilience is a universal criterion of health and well-being. Resilience isn't just about yields, it's about being able to recover and return to original form. It's about..." read full article.
Capital Press Organic seed usage grows "Organic farmers were asked about their seed usage as part of the upcoming report about the 'state of organic seed' in 2016, which is being written by the Organic Seed Alliance nonprofit group. Growers reported planting about 69 percent of their vegetable..." read full article.
Wisconsin State Farmer Organic approach improves carrots "Simon, who is the research leader of ARS's Vegetable Crops Research Laboratory in Madison, WI, is leading the five-year Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture (CIOA) project that is ultimately aimed at providing information and..." read full article.
Heritage Radio Network Bridging the gap from plant breeders to eaters "Holli Cederholm was on-site at Organic Seed Alliance's 8th Organic Seed Growers Conference in Corvallis, Oregon, on February 5-6, 2016, for a special episode of The Farm Report. After a full day of workshops and panel..." listen to the episode.
Capital Press Seed Alliance helps develop better organic varieties "Three years ago, OSA set out to improve organic seed availability and variety performance for regional season extension through on-farm breeding partnerships. OSA led a series of conversations throughout the Northwest to ask..." read full article.
North State Public Radio Cultivating Place: Organic Seed Alliance "Seeds are the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end of most plant life. This week on Cultivating Place we're joined by Micaela Colley, Executive Director of Organic Seed Alliance based in Port Townsend, WA, and..." listen to the episode.
The Deborah Newspapers The Seed Garden receives major book award "The Seed Garden, a collaboration between Seed Savers Exchange and Organic Seed Alliance, was five years in the making and details the seed saving practices for more than 70 crop types. The book, which was..." read full article.
Organic Broadcaster Organic Seed Alliance reports on state of organic seed "The goal of our State of Organic Seed project is to measure the progress we are making in increasing the availability, quality, and integrity of organic seed. This report serves as an important summary of ongoing needs to..." read full article.
Fundamentals of Commercial Organic Seed Production Workshop | April 10, 2016 | Redding, California Join the Northeast Seed Hub for this one-day workshop to learn key skills for developing and adapting varieties to your organic farm. OSA's Jared Zystro and Steve Peters will lead this workshop. Register for the workshop only here OR register for the workshop and lunch here.
2016 Community Grains Conference | April 10, 2016 | Oakland, California Join OSA's Brook Brouwer at the 2016 Community Grains Conference where he and Matthew Dillon of Seed Matters will participate on a panel, titled: "The Need for Seed." Learn more
International Wildlife Film Festival | April 21, 2016 | Missoula, Montana Join OSA's Kiki Hubbard for a special International Wildlife Film Festival showing of SEED: The Untold Story at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, 2016. This film follows passionate seed keepers protecting our 12,000 year-old food legacy. Learn more
Student Organic Seed Symposium | August 5-8, 2016 | Waterville, Maine OSA's Kiki Hubbard will present at this year's Student Organic Seed Symposium in Waterville, Maine. OSA is a proud sponsor of this annual event organized by and for graduate students across the country who are interested in organic plant breeding and sustainable agricultural systems. Learn more
Organicology | February 2-4, 2017 | Portland, Oregon Join OSA for the biennial Organicology conference in Portland, Oregon. Organicology brings together stakeholder groups from all corners of the organic community to develop skills in their own areas of activity and gain exposure to the challenges and accomplishments of those in other areas of the trade and movement. Learn more
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“OSA is the place I always turn to when I need to know more about an issue or learn more about how best to produce and save a particular kind of seed. With OSA and others leading the charge, I know the integrity and future of organic seeds is assured.”
Electra de Peyster
Santa Rosa, California