Florecita del Zacate tan humilde y poderosa
– Silvia Mamacoalt artist and healer in San Francisco, CA. Rest in Peace.
It was early spring 2018 when I heard for the first time about the Organic Seed Production Course by Organic Seed Alliance (OSA). At that time I was working in California for the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA) where I was part of multiple programs as the education specialist and the Organic Seed Production Online Course was one of them.
The program was just beginning, a delicate sprout. For my multiple commitments I barely could dedicate time to nurture this new plant but I did it as I could. I remember that the OSA team with support of some people from MESA started building the content and drafted the crop tracking project. This project was one of the pedagogical tools of the course that with the live sessions, the online platform, and the mentorship program, form the core components of the course now. My task at that time was to read and comment on the crop tracking projects and encourage the students to engage with the content.
Again, that was a beginning and I barely understood the dynamic of the course, but when I sat down in front of the computer and started reading the crop tracking projects I felt that something was special. I was able to be in contact and interact with beginner farmers interested in organic seed production all around the U.S. – Arizona, Colorado, California, Washington – and the list continued growing. The day that the students taught me that the polyculture technique widely practiced in South and Central America called the three sisters (corn, beans, and squash) was also practiced in multiple regions of the U.S., I knew it for sure – this class was special. Taking advantage of new and old tools, the class has the potential to teach us to be conscious of how connected and interdependent our farming communities are at the continental level.
By the end of 2019 I stopped working for MESA and I lost track of the course. What a surprise when in 2022 I came back to the class, this time as the general coordinator. That little sprout that I witnessed for some time has grown. In the past three cohorts the OSA Organic Seed Production Online Course has served more than 100 students all around the U.S. and even some from Canada and Mexico. It also included in the learning experience around 45 mentors, experienced organic seed farmers that generously share their knowledge with the students in the regions, making the class a hybrid experience that encompasses online and in-person environments.
As any human endeavor the class has many things to improve but in general our students think that it is a good course, that it helped them to thrive in their organic seed production journey, and that it contributes significantly to the food sovereignty of the U.S. by strengthening local food systems. The Organic Seed Production Online Course alumni body, the mentorship network, and the online content keeps growing. Another thing that also grows is the desire of OSA to continue offering the class to the farming community.
Given the uncertainty of grant funded programs, I don’t know what will be the fate of this course in the short future. I am still not sure of the resilience and energy of the seed that was planted some years ago and that I witnessed as a sprout but I have a feeling. I think it is probable that the seed is humble and powerful as the grass flower.
I want to share with the OSA community one of the fruits of the course. The podcast below was produced by Hassena Kassim and Greg Peterson. Hassena and Greg talk about the course and also about Hassena crop tracking project on beans, the nitrogen fixer and the nutrient provider of the three sisters.
Hassena Kassim enjoys spending time on the farm with her daughter. And with the cluckers, dairy goats, guardian dogs, bees, and possibly too many cats. Permaculture and biodynamics inspired. Striving towards closed loop farming systems. With the help of a modest worm farm, the garden’s soil is nourished annually. Products of the farm include; eggs, seeds, garlic, pumpkins and goat milk caramels.
Organization that Hassena has enjoyed serving and working with include: Board of Zoological Horticulture, Society of International Arboriculture, Watershed Management Group, and the WNC Seed Growers Collective. Happy growing y’all.
Greg Peterson, “What if there was a garden and fruit tree in every yard?”. This is a question that Greg ponders every day. For over 32 years he created one of the Phoenix’s first environmental showcase homes for urban farming. The 1/4-acre yard featured a primarily edible landscape with over 80 fruit trees, rainwater and greywater harvesting, solar applications, and extensive use of reclaimed and recycled building materials.
In 2003 UrbanFarm.org was created as an online portal for urban farming education then in 2015 Greg created The Urban Farm Podcast. The podcast is designed to help fulfill Greg’s passion of spreading the word about growing your own food and sharing new and seasoned gardeners’ epic stories of inspiration.
Greg and his partner Heidi in 2022 decided to make a big move and they purchased 4 acres in Asheville, NC. A dream that he has been fostering for over a decade. The move was inspired by the incredible local food economy of the area.