Signs of spring are appearing in Washington after a cold winter. As days lengthen and soils warm, Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) embraces the season of renewal.
Our staff has been elbow-deep in variety trial data this winter. As we celebrate first year data from the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC), including our carrot breeding project, we’re gearing up to expand this year’s trials by adding dry beans to the list of crops. In the Research and Education update below, you’ll learn more about the overwintered crops we’re evaluating in the field: chard, radicchio, and purple sprouting broccoli that are cold-hardy, flavorful, and beautiful to the eye.
Evaluating our crop diversity through field trials directly addresses the problem of consolidation in the seed industry and represents progress toward regional seed systems. OSA continues to lead the charge in participatory plant breeding models supporting organic seed systems that are resilient and farmer-centric — systems necessary for protecting agricultural biodiversity, expanding innovation in the face of climate change, and meeting the demands for nutritious and safe food.
That’s why I’m proud to announce the release of our State of Organic Seed report, which is the first comprehensive assessment of the opportunities and challenges in building these systems. If you haven’t already downloaded your free copy, do so today — and let us know what you think. The next stage of this project is to carry out the preliminary action items identified in the report for moving organic seed forward.
If you keep up with news on Seed Broadcast, you know that OSA has also been busy advocating for organic seed integrity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently approved both genetically engineered alfalfa and sugar beets for commercial planting. We recently published talking points on these decisions and hope you’ll help us create a unified voice to challenge these decisions and demand meaningful change, beginning with the National Organic Coalition’s “Seven Steps to Fair Farming.” As always, follow our blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account to keep your finger on the pulse of these issues.
We continue to serve individual and group clients in alignment with our mission on a fee-for-service basis through our Advisory Services program. Examples of services include enterprise and cooperative development, seed production, plant breeding, and educational events.
Finally, I’m excited to share that we’ve set the date for our 6th Organic Seed Growers Conference. Mark your calendars for January 19 – 21, 2012, and plan to join us here in Port Townsend, Washington, for what is recognized as the only event of its kind in North America. Look for a call for proposals and more information in the coming months.
To healthy seed systems,
Micaela Colley, Executive Director