Our first annual research farm field day celebrated the fall harvest this week. Farmers, seed companies, Washington State University (WSU) research and education partners, and our local community of gardeners and eaters in Chimicum, Washington, came out to celebrate and taste the fall harvest. We hosted field tours and tastings of more than a dozen crops from our variety trials and participatory plant breeding projects. Farmers and seed companies spent a chilly morning scrutinizing the crops and discussing field research from the 2015 growing season.
One highlight of the morning included farmers, seed companies, and our local food co-op’s produce manager actively participating in plant breeding decisions. They helped select plants that exhibited particular traits in striped roasting peppers. The peppers are a breeding project of NOVIC partner Micheal Mazourek of Cornell University. Growers picked their favorite plants based on yield, strong stature, and attractive variegation on the leaves and fruits. Seed from the peppers will be shipped back to Michael as part of this participatory breeding project.
WSU partners joined us in the field as well. Laura Lewis shared our collective vision for a new organic germplasm collection: the Organic Germplasm Consortium. And WSU pathologist, Lindsey Du Toit, assisted in identifying plant diseases in the field and educating participants about the current black leg disease quarantine in the region.
The day slowly warmed as our staff led two additional farm tours for local gardeners and eaters. Participants enjoyed the harvest and learned about OSA’s breeding efforts, including novel colored carrots, Olympic sweet corn, red storage cabbage, bolt-resistant chard, and overwintering chicory and purple sprouted broccoli. At the end of the event, everyone participated in a tasting to help our research team evaluate some of the harvest to inform future research decisions. The tasting included onions, peppers, quinoa, colored carrots, and Delicata squash. Participants also enjoyed Finn River Cider and signature dishes of the featured crops provided by local chefs from the Silverwater Cafe, The Cellar Door, Alderwood Bistro, and Jefferson Healthcare Hospital.