California leads the nation in vegetable seed production, yet less than half of the vegetable seed planted on organic farms in the state is organic. This means that California’s organic farmers — like organic growers in other states — often plant non-organic seed due to a lack of variety options or insufficient quantities.
With the right tools, California farmers can help fill the demand for more diversity, and increased quantities, in the organic seed marketplace.
Organic Seed Alliance is supporting California-based seed systems through educational events, research projects, and an annual seed summit.
We are also managing “seed hubs” in five regions across the state to provide in-depth instruction on producing seed for the commercial market and maintaining the quality and integrity of varieties grown. These hubs also serve as equipment sharing networks and provide marketing assistance for seed producers.
And check out our California Organic Seed Grower Directory (download a PDF or purchase a physical copy), which facilitates seed sharing and sales between seed growers, seed businesses, and farm customers.
Our California research focuses on:
As part of the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC), OSA is testing dozens of new organically bred varieties of sweet corn (both open-pollinated and hybrid varieties). Partners include College of the Redwoods, Camp Grant Ranch, and Clover Creek Farm.
As part of the Tomato Organic Management and Improvement (TOMI) project, OSA is managing a large breeding trial in California and are selecting for disease resistance and flavor. Partners include College of the Redwoods.
OSA has been working with Blake Richards of Wild Rose Farm to develop new quinoa varieties for dryland organic farming. In 2019, we will be testing 300 white and red breeding lines to identify larger seed size, good productivity, and disease- and pest-resistance. Partners include Wild Rose Farm.
Beans, tomatoes, and peppers
As part of UC Davis’s Student Collaborative Organic Plant Breeding Education project, OSA is managing on-farm trials of tomatoes, peppers, lima beans, and common beans. OSA is closely engaging farmers and organic seed companies in these breeding projects. The goal of this project is to train graduate students in the practical skills of organic plant breeding while releasing useful varieties for organic producers.
OSA is conducting variety trials of sweet corn, tomato, and wheat. Partners include Luna Farm and Clover Creek Farm.