Organic Seed Alliance is extremely thankful to share with our community that we received an incredible amount of applications for our 2022 Organic Seed Production online class, fruit of the hard work done by our team over the last few years. We want to acknowledge Kitt Healy, coordinator of 2020 and 2021 cohorts, for her significant contribution to design and implement the course as we have it now. Best wishes for Kitt in her new endeavors.
For the 2022 course session, we received a record number of more than 250 applications, many of them from exceptional and talented farmers (beginners and experienced), gardeners, educators, and activists. All of them have something in common; they recognize the importance of organic seed production and want to produce seeds for their own use or as part of their business. Unfortunately, we could only accept 40 applications based on our capacity. We limited the number of students accepted into the instructor-guided course to ensure quality of student support. All the remaining applicants were invited to enroll in a self-study version of the course and access published educational materials through OSA’s online resource library.
Who are we attracting?
After carefully reviewing all applications we found that we are reaching a very diverse and vibrant group of farmers, coming from 40 different states in the U.S., plus 8 other countries, including Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Zambia, and Pakistan. For our class we only can receive students from the North American continent, which includes the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, but we are honored by people from other regions being interested in our program. We saw a wide geographic diversity reflected in the applications, with representation from all regions in the U.S. and across the spectrum of rural to urban. There were especially high numbers coming from California, Washington, Hawaii, Ontario, North Carolina, and British Columbia. Applications showed clear variability in the individual’s ideal scale of production, from gardens and community plots worked with hand tools to large acreage ran with mechanical farm equipment and field crews.
Regarding applicants’ interest in seed production topics, there was widespread interest in learning about community strengthening through seed work, breeding open-pollinated and regional adapted varieties, and developing strategies to build resilience in a world with an ever-changing climate and economic landscape. Applicants consistently cited challenges in accessing capital, land, labor, markets, and knowledge as limiting factors to achieve their farming goals. Despite these barriers, the overwhelming majority of applicants were fully committed to a career in farming and were still highly interested in pursuing seed work as part of their livelihoods.
While this course is only one piece of the puzzle of our food system, we believe that the program could lead to a cascade of new growth and connection that will help expand the supply of culturally relevant and sustainably produced seeds. In addition, we are applying for funding that gives us the opportunity to continue nurturing our organic seed growers community that gets stronger and larger every season.
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