The future is rosy and bright for spring gardens this year as seed shoppers gain access to new, organically bred varieties. We’re excited to share that two new varieties from our participatory plant breeding program can be found in organic seed catalogs and racks in 2023, including a brightly colored magenta chard and rosy, red carrot.
‘Carnelian’ carrot is a reddish pink, attractive and flavorful variety developed as part of the Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture project, and now available from High Mowing Organic Seeds. These roots are a beautiful salmon pink with a gorgeous contrasting core ranging from pink to yellow.
Gardeners can also access our vibrantly colored ‘Magenta’ chard from Fruition Seeds. ‘Magenta’ was developed for its colorful hew, bolt resistance and cold tolerance by OSA in partnership with organic farmers representing more than a decade of selection efforts.
These two new varieties are the third and fourth participatory-bred varieties we’ve released following ‘Who Gets Kissed?’ sweet corn and ‘Abundant Bloomsdale’ spinach, with many more to come. For organic farmers and gardeners, growing a rainbow of diverse, resilient, flavorful foods requires access to suitable seed. At Organic Seed Alliance we partner with farmers, university-based plant breeders, and others to develop new or improved varieties that meet the needs of organic farmers and gardeners across the U.S.
To ensure broad access, seed of the varieties we co-develop must then be multiplied and distributed. In some cases, the farmers or farmer-networks we partner with save seed of new varieties and continue to select on farm and share with other farmers in their networks. To spread the seed even further, we also partner with small- to medium- scale seed companies who sell organic and ecologically grown seed. These companies help spread access by increasing the quantity of seed available and by distributing it through regional and national sales. We never patent the varieties we develop, so anyone is free to save seed and continue selecting or breeding new varieties. The companies we partner with share a percent of their profits with our research program to support our ability to continue expanding our participatory plant breeding and steward the varieties we’ve co-developed into the future. Seed companies can get involved by participating in variety trials of up-and-coming new varieties from our research program. We strive to inclusively invite a wide diversity of companies to participate in our annual trials and communicate with us about interest in collaborating in sales. If you are a small- to medium- scale seed company selling organic and/or ecologically grown seed and would like to participate, please reach out to Jared Zystro, OSA’s Research & Education co-director at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about OSA’s organic participatory plant breeding program.