As the climate changes and our farms experience increasingly severe drought, storms, pests, and disease, we’re actually being handed a tremendous learning opportunity.
By knocking our food systems off balance, nature is not only showing us where we need to improve, but also how to do it.
Resilient ecosystems, or those that bounce back quickly in the face of climate chaos, have a lot to teach us about successfully adapting to changing conditions. Research shows that resilient agricultural ecosystems are bio-diverse ecosystems. At Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) we take that knowledge to heart by incorporating diversity into every level of our work.
Please help us cultivate a resilient food system that includes diverse seed stakeholders and organically bred seed varieties with a tax-deductible donation.
I want to share an example from this past year that illustrates our commitment to resilience.
Sweet corn loves sun and heat, two qualities not often found in the cool and wet Olympic Peninsula climate. Organic farmers in the area don’t have many options: The best available varieties on the market come from seed bred for conventional, chemically intensive agricultural systems.
But as part of a joint organic plant-breeding project, this summer OSA researchers evaluated breeding plots of a new organic, early-maturing, open-pollinated sweet corn on the Olympic Peninsula. (And it was quite delicious.)
The key players in the project represent very different points along the food-system chain:
- An organic plant breeder: University of Wisconsin – Madison
- Organic seed researchers and advocates: OSA and the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative
- Local farmers
- An organic food market: Port Townsend Food Co-op
The project’s success stems directly from the diversity of stakeholders, all of which provide unique skills and expertise that will continue to improve the crop as it culminates in a new organic sweet corn variety adapted for the Olympic Peninsula.
But this project is about more than just ensuring sweet corn enthusiasts in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California (we’re working on breeding for organic farmers there, too) have access to delicious, organic sweet corn. It’s also an example of how, when we work together, we can adapt seed to various climates. And providing regionally adapted organic seed that farmers can save is a critical tool in climate adaptation.
Saving seed may not seem revolutionary, but it is one of the most powerful ways that we can manage climate change. Farmers are among the first to notice how crops react to weather events, pests, and disease, which means they can identify which varieties adapt better to disturbance than others.
Open-pollinated seed that has been bred specifically for organic use allows farmers to save the seeds of plants that respond best to their local conditions. And as conditions continue to change, giving farmers the power to continually adapt is a critical component of food security.
There’s one key player missing from the list of seed stakeholders above, and that is you…the seed advocate. Your role is equally critical in the work that we do to ensure that local farmers have the seed they need to ensure a resilient and healthy food supply.
When you make a donation to OSA you are supporting projects like the joint organic sweet corn breeding initiative, as well as farmer and plant breeder education, research on the state of organic seed, and national advocacy efforts to ensure seed is available to the many rather than the few.
You truly are an integral part of OSA’s diverse web of seed stakeholders and stewards who care about the health and safety of our food systems.
Thank you, and best wishes for a joyous holiday season.
P.S. The fight against climate change is overwhelming. But just like seed, sometimes the biggest impact comes from the tiniest resource. Please consider a recurring monthly gift to OSA. Even $10 each month can add up to a generous annual donation. Learn more at www.seedalliance.org.