The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SAWG) will host it’s 22nd annual conference, themed “practical tools and solutions for sustaining family farms,” from January 23-26, in Little Rock, AR. Part of the 2013 conference slate is a sustainable seed track.
Following two days of intensive short courses and field trips, and an evening of special events- including a Seed Swap - the general conference kicks off on Friday, January 25. The line-up includes 62 1½ hour educational sessions, along with state networking sessions for each of the 13 states in SAWG’s region.
OSGATA board members, seasoned farmers, and the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA), are coming together to talk organic seed.
“Developing a Regional Seed System” is one highlight of Friday morning’s information exhange (facilitated group discussions providing conference participants with the opportunity to exchange ideas with their peers). Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and the OSGATA board will be helping generate ideas regarding how the Southeast can support the development of seed varieties that are adapted to organic production systems, as well as a regional system for growing and distributing organic seed.
The Saturday seed schedule begins with ”Organic Seeds in Need: Overcoming the Barriers to Organic Seed System Development” presented by Micaela Colley and Jared Zystro of OSA. This session will cover seed industry concentration, restrictive patents on plant genetics, and the growing challenge of protecting seed integrity from genetically engineered (GE) traits.
Next in line is “Integrating Organic Seed Production into Your Diversified Farm.” This session will discuss the benefits, as well as the challenges, of on-farm seed production. Success stories of organic seed production will be presented by: Jim Gerritsen, OSGATA/ Wood Prairie Farm; Micaela Colley, OSA; Ira Wallace, SESE; Richard Moyer, Moyer Family Farm; and Pam Dawling, Twin Oaks.
Those inspired by earlier talks may want to continue on to Saturday afternoon’s “Organic Seed Production Basics,” designed to distill the basic biology and techniques of growing organic seed on-farm. OSGATA Vice President and Kansas-based farmer Bryce Stephens will join representatives of OSA, SESE, and Slade Farms.
The day-long crash-course in organic seed comes to a close with “How to Conduct Your Own On-farm Variety Trials.” Colley, of OSA, talks variety trials on-farm to identify the best performing, organic varieties for local growing conditions.
While conference pre-registration is closed, in-person registration is open at the event.
A downloadable conference schedule is available here.
If you are at the conference please stop by OSGATA’s booth at the Trade Show, and visit us at the Seed Swap. OSGATA has arranged for some seedy snacks- 3 varieties of certified organic heirloom popcorn, courtesy of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.