Spring 2011 Newsletter

Signs of spring are appearing in Washington after a cold winter. As days lengthen and soils warm, Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) embraces the season of renewal.

Our staff has been elbow-deep in variety trial data this winter. As we celebrate first year data from the {cms_selflink page="novic"}, including our carrot breeding project, we’re gearing up to expand this year’s trials by adding dry beans to the list of crops. In the Research and Education update below, you'll learn more about the overwintered crops we're evaluating in the field: chard, radicchio, and purple sprouting broccoli that are cold-hardy, flavorful, and beautiful to the eye.

Evaluating our crop diversity through field trials directly addresses the problem of consolidation in the seed industry and represents progress toward regional seed systems. OSA continues to lead the charge in participatory plant breeding models supporting organic seed systems that are resilient and farmer-centric -- systems necessary for protecting agricultural biodiversity, expanding innovation in the face of climate change, and meeting the demands for nutritious and safe food. 

That's why I'm proud to announce the release of our {cms_selflink page="publications" text="State of Organic Seed"} report, which is the first comprehensive assessment of the opportunities and challenges in building these systems. If you haven't already downloaded your free copy, {cms_selflink page="publications" text="do so today"} -- and let us know what you think. The next stage of this project is to carry out the preliminary action items identified in the report for moving organic seed forward.

If you keep up with news on Seed Broadcast, you know that OSA has also been busy advocating for organic seed integrity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently approved both genetically engineered alfalfa and sugar beets for commercial planting. We recently published {cms_selflink page="advocacy" text="talking points"} on these decisions and hope you'll help us create a unified voice to challenge these decisions and demand meaningful change, beginning with the National Organic Coalition's "Seven Steps to Fair Farming." As always, follow our blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account to keep your finger on the pulse of these issues.


We continue to serve individual and group clients in alignment with our mission on a fee-for-service basis through our Advisory Services program. Examples of services include enterprise and cooperative development, seed production, plant breeding, and educational events.


Finally, I'm excited to share that we've set the date for our 6th Organic Seed Growers Conference. Mark your calendars for January 19 - 21, 2012, and plan to join us here in Port Townsend, Washington, for what is recognized as the only event of its kind in North America. Look for a call for proposals and more information in the coming months.

To healthy seed systems,
Micaela Colley

Executive Director



Winter Hardy Crops Put to Test

OSA’s Research and Education programs are working to create the next generation of organic seeds and seed stewards by breeding organically adapted carrots, trialing new varieties for winter hardiness, and producing new organic seed and breeding publications.



Publications to Showcase Best Seed Saving and Plant Breeding Tips, Models

Have you wanted to create new varieties for your farm or garden, but been intimidated by the process? OSA is working to demystify organic plant breeding thanks to support from the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF).



New Report Provides Roadmap for Organic Seed Systems

Organic Seed Alliance has spent nearly two years making a roadmap for organic seed systems, and we’re proud to announce its publication, titled State of Organic Seed. This roadmap was led by former OSA staff member, Matthew Dillon, and supported by diverse stakeholders.



OSA Joins the National Organic Coalition
OSA is a proud new member of the National Organic Coalition (NOC), a national alliance of organizations working to provide a "Washington voice" for farmers, ranchers, environmentalists, consumers and progressive industry members involved in organic agriculture.



Technical Assistance for Your Community Seed Project

The need for people to work at the local level to protect and advance organic seed systems has never been greater. OSA is helping to create community seed systems across the U.S. through our research and education programs but also through fee-for-service technical assistance.



Did You Miss Organicology?
The 2011 Organicology conference was a smashing success, with 700 participants gathering to discuss a sustainable food future. Audio recordings of the workshops, intensives and keynote addresses are available for purchase, and PowerPoint presentations are posted online.



Mark Your Calendars

Mother Earth News Fair (June 4 - 5, 2011)
Join OSA at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, Washington, for organic seed workshops, and a live auction with proceeds benefiting OSA.

Organic Seed Growers Conference (January 19 - 21, 2012)
OSA will host the 6th Organic Seed Growers Conference in Port Townsend, Washington.

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Support Us

“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.”


Alec McErlich

OSA supporter

Seattle, Washington