Organic Seed Alliance recently hosted the first-ever California Organic Seed Summit at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks. The purpose was to convene organic seed growers and organic seed companies to not just learn from each other, but to create a plan for their collective future. About 30 participants spent two days developing long-term strategies and actions for building organic seed systems in the third largest state.
Although California leads the nation in vegetable seed production, less than half of the vegetable seed planted on organic farms is organic, according to our 2011 State of Organic Seed findings. There is a clear need for more organic seed, and the state’s organic seed growers can help fill the gap. This summit provided the perfect forum for fostering relationships and for creating a plan to actualize a shared vision to improve the availability, diversity, quality, and integrity of organic seed grown in the state.
As one participant relayed:
I had hoped to connect with seed buyers in order to make more money, and I probably did that, but I was BLOWN AWAY by the level of preparedness, patience, and passion all the organizers brought, the consensus we were able to achieve on so many of our shared goals (apparently without any effort or strife) and the action items we concocted! I particularly loved the relatively informal open ‘equipment forum’ where everyone was able to share her favorite wire cloth / bucket / gravity table sources. I haven’t learned so much in one day since the last time the creek flooded!
Summit participants identified four goals to work toward as an organic seed network:
1. Create common marketing to build community support for organic seed.
2. Create a database to share knowledge on production details, contracting needs, and breeding projects, among other updates and resources.
3. Find a shared ethical framework focused on transparency.
4. Create opportunities for more face-to-face interactions for organic seed growers and sellers.
OSA will be creating and distributing the summit proceedings within the next month, which will include more details on the process and outcomes, including key challenges and 2015 action items to guide the network toward achieving their collective goals. To learn more, contact Jared Zystro.