Seed is one of the most critical inputs a farm relies on, and organic farmers are required to utilize organic seed when available. But seed is more than an input. Seed is a natural resource requiring broad and collaborative stewardship. The quality of seed and the suitability of a variety can make a very substantial impact on the profitability, environmental impact, and sustainability of the farming operation. Organic foods sales exceed 45 billion dollars annually, but organic farmers remain dependent on a highly consolidated, conventional seed industry to supply their genetics. Organic farmers in the Southern region are further challenged by a unique growing climate with high humidity, and low winter chilling, which limits the range of species suitable for production of high quality seed. Successful seed production requires knowledge of appropriate production practices, infrastructure needs, markets, agroecological implications, and the suitability of the crop for seed production in the local environment. The 2019 Southeast Seed Summit was convened In order to empower Southeast farmers to expand organic seed production, while addressing the risks and impacts on the whole farm system.
These proceedings came from this summit, which was held in conjunction with the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference as a two and a half day conference for seed producers and other stakeholders. The seed summit featured workshops on seed topics including seed production, plant breeding, variety trials, and seed business, as well as sharing, networking and listening sessions. In these proceedings you will find the summaries and notes from listening sessions on how to improve Southeast seed systems, as well as the slides from the workshops.
There is an active movement of Southeast seed growers and their allies working to strengthen Southeast seed systems, starting with the priority initial areas of work detailed here. If you are curious about Southeast seed efforts and activities, want to join the Southeast Seed Network listserve, or want to help to further some of these goals, you can find out more by reaching out to Jared Zystro at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to working together with you.
2019 Southeast Seed Organizing Committee