Our education program expands the foundation of knowledge necessary for stewarding seed. We teach plant breeding and seed production skills to farmers, students, seed companies, and other agricultural professionals. We believe in field-based learning, and focus our trainings on on-farm methods appropriate for organic farming. We deliver our education through courses (see below), Organic Seed Growers Conferences, and other events, as well as publications and web-based resources (see eOrganic).
Courses (see below) are offered in various locations in the U.S. throughout the year. Join our newsletter for updates on upcoming events, and, in the meantime, if you want to build your seed production skills, download our publications.
Organic Seed Alliance Courses
Fundamentals of On-Farm Plant BreedingThis course teaches participants how to improve vegetable quality through careful seed selection and improvement. Participants also learn how to select for reproductive fitness, yield, disease resistance, and improved performance under adverse conditions. Participants gain knowledge in seed growing basics, sourcing germplasm, conducting variety trials, and basic variety improvement techniques. Prior experience in basic seed growing is recommended. We suggest reviewing our online tutorials on seed saving and production before the course.
Fundamentals of Seed Production
This course teaches participants fundamental skills for developing and adapting varieties to their organic farm. Topics of instruction include: the biology of seed production, seed harvesting and cleaning, choosing appropriate seed crops for your system and climate, maintaining the genetic integrity of varieties with appropriate population sizes and isolation distances, conducting variety trials, and basic on-farm breeding techniques. Prior experience in basic seed growing is recommended. We suggest reviewing our online tutorials on seed saving and production before the course.
Seed Saving for Farmers and Gardeners
This course teaches participants how to grow seed, steward heirlooms, and develop new varieties. Instruction includes basic seed concepts including timing of planting, ideal population sizes, preventing cross-pollination, selecting for improved varieties, seed maturation and harvest, and seed cleaning techniques. This is a beginning level course for participants who are beginning or intermediate level seed savers.
On-Farm Variety Trials
This course teaches participants how to conduct variety trials on their farm to identify the best performing organic varieties available varieties for their local growing conditions. Choosing the right crops and varieties for the local climate, field conditions, and market can significantly minimize loss and increase agricultural success while also satisfying requirements of organic certifiers. This course provides training in basic on-farm experimental design, as well as the tools to efficiently and effectively plan, manage, and evaluate a variety trial and use trial results.
“We know system diversity is one of the foundation stones to successful organic production and we have seen a demonstrated commitment from OSA to build that component of diversity relating to seed. I want to ensure my dollars to on-the-ground projects, a place where an emphasis to make an enduring difference is part of the mandate and where my dollars can be leveraged to build a stronger, healthier food system around the world.”