The 10th Organic Seed Growers Conference drew more than 400 participants last week in Corvallis, Oregon, from February 12-15. Participants represented 36 U.S. states and 12 countries. An additional 100 people joined the conference via live webinar. Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) co-hosted the event with Oregon State University, Washington State University’s Food Systems Program, and eOrganic.
The conference has been convening the organic seed community for nearly two decades and always includes a packed agenda of presentations, panel discussions, networking events, and time for celebration. More than 80 experts presented on topics ranging from organic seed growing, plant breeding, seed economics, policy advocacy, seed ethics, and more.
This milestone 10th biennial conference theme charged participants to: Reflect. Renew. Resolve. The new decade provided inspiration for participants to look back and take stock of growth in the organic seed sector while collectively creating a future for organic seed that advances the health of both people and the planet, as well as social justice.
“OSA was inspired by the diversity of perspectives and practices represented at the event,” says OSA Executive Director Cara Loriz. “Our hope is that the organic seed sector – and the movement underpinning its integrity and success – is strengthened by the discussion, debate, and relationship building that took place last week.”
The conference welcomed Ricardo Salvador, senior scientist and director of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, to provide the keynote address. Salvador is a renowned speaker on the connections between food and health, the environment, food sovereignty, and social justice. His address provided a painful reminder that U.S. agriculture was built through the exploitation of people and charged everyone to understand this history as we collaborate on creating a more just food system.
“We are so grateful to the many speakers who shared their stories and expertise,” Loriz adds.
Ahead of the conference, more than 100 participants loaded buses to visit seed production and plant breeding locations throughout the Willamette Valley, a tour sponsored by Oregon Tilth. The conference also offered an all-day seed ethics intensive, organic plant breeding intensive, and variety trial and culinary evaluation intensive.
In conjunction with eOrganic, six sessions were offered free and open to the public as live webinars. The recordings will be available in the coming weeks. Proceedings from the conference are available at the button below.
“In my 38 years of working in agricultural extension, I consider this event to be the bellwether conference that can set future directions,” shares conference participant Glenn Teves from the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources in Hoolehua, Hawaii. “We all have a responsibility to take this movement to the next level.”
The date for the next Organic Seed Growers Conference has already been set, and will take place February 9 – 12, 2022, in Corvallis, Oregon. Keep tabs on this and other upcoming events by joining OSA’s newsletter and following us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.