Organic acreage in the Intermountain West continues to increase alongside the national demand for organic food. For example, in a five-year period, organic vegetable acreage in Montana experienced a five-fold increase. Although the organic seed trade is growing, the supply is still insufficient to fully meet the diverse and regional needs of all growers — including farmers in the Intermountain West.
Organic Seed Alliance conducted a seed needs assessment of organic vegetable growers in Montana. The survey findings continue to inform organic seed research and education in the state, including a partnership with Triple Divide Organic Seeds Cooperative where we have collaborated on organic variety trials, on-farm plant breeding projects, and educational events for farmers who want to hone their organic seed skills. OSA also published a quality assurance manual, titled: “Best Practices for Vegetable Seed Handling in Montana.” The manual includes recommendations for quality assurance grow outs, germination testing, and vigor testing, and provides guidance on managing foundation and stock seed.
Most recently, OSA developed resources that help Montana’s seed growers understand the economics of seed production. Organic seed production is a developing industry, and can provide economic opportunity for farmers, but there is always some degree of uncertainty and risk. This new toolkit helps seed growers develop good record keeping, enterprise budgets, and marketing strategies to help them manage risk.
Some project updates include:
- Best Practices for Vegetable Seed Handling in Montana
- Meet Your Seed Grower: Judy Owsowitz, Terrapin Farm
- OSA Featured on PBS’s Farm to Fork Wyoming
- Report Describes Organic Seed Needs for Montana