As I watch OSA grow and evolve, refining our programs and addressing our mission, I realize we’re reaching a transformative phase where our work is having a true impact on the state of organic seed. After seven years of working with OSA I’ve recently moved into the position of Executive Director. As a mother of a toddler I can’t help but reflect on how quickly we all grow up and the importance of nurturing that growth. I sometimes feel OSA is also a living entity growing out of adolescence and into a mature organization. As ED I recognize the importance of nurturing the organization’s growth and the value of dedicated staff that embody our mission. I’m proud to share with you some of our recent accomplishments, new projects, and future potential as well as introduce our new staff members.
In the early phase of OSA’s formation we held a visioning session to direct the new organization. We assessed what issues needed to be addressed, what skills we held, what other organizations were already doing, who our allies where, and from that assessment – what work we should be focused on. We decided that day that Advocacy was urgently needed, but that we must first root ourselves in Research and Education where our skills were in high demand and our services unique. Once our work in the field was established then we’d have a stronger voice to advocate for farmers rights and address ethical issues related to seed. We’ve earned that voice and it is my pleasure to watch our Advocacy Program speak out.
This year our Advocacy Program led by OSA founder, Matthew Dillon, conducted the first national assessment of the State of Organic Seed. A report of results will be released this summer. We’ve also expanded our Advocacy team with the addition of Kristina Hubbard, who brings extensive experience addressing issues related to contamination and consolidation in the seed industry.
Our work in the field continues to grow locally and nationally as we develop improved varieties and increase farmer’s access to field-based information on organic seed. This year we helped launch the Northern Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC). We’re creating an online database of organic variety trial results. We’re teaching farmers on-farm seed growing and variety improvement skills. Most days our plant breeder Dr. John Navazio spends his time in the field breeding carrots, spinach and other crops and conducting on-farm organic variety trials. Through our advisory services, now led by Dan Hobbs, our former ED, we’re helping build the skills and infrastructure for seed growers to succeed economically. In our own backyard, in partnership with WSU, we’re partnering on seed-related projects with 11 farms in Jefferson County and the three surrounding Counties, Clallam, Island and Thurston. Each of these efforts is contributing to a new era where farmers have secure access to healthy, organic seed; seed which is essential for our food communities to thrive.
I invite you to read on about our work, join us at a or field day, and support the ethical stewardship of seed with a donation today.
What's in this Issue
Carrot Breeding Project YouTube Video by John Navazio and Matthew Dillon
Organic Seed Production and Crop Variety Improvement
Learn how to maintain genetic integrity of seed while improving and adapting crops to your environment and particular cultural practices. This workshop is designed to provide organic farmers with the knowledge required to produce a marketable seed crop. July 20 - 23rd at Foxglove Farm, Salt Spring Island, BC Canada. Learn more
Seed Growing 101 Workshop & Field Tour
Learn all that you need to know to confidently grow seed on a commerial level or as a backyard gardener. August 17, 2010, at Jardin del Alma Farm in New Mexico. Learn more
A Seed Saving Guide for Gardeners and Farmers Released
This new publication from Organic Seed Alliance condenses the wisdom of their years of farming, gardening, plant breeding and seed saving, as well as conversations with many prominent seed experts. The guide covers the basics of seed growing from choosing appropriate varieties for seed saving to harvesting, processing, and storing seed. OSA has researched the most reliable information and encourages the reader to experience their own “reality on the ground” to learn what practices work best for their climate and farming system.
To access A Seed Saving Guide for Gardeners and Farmers and other publications click here
“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