FFSC engages with numerous partners to develop, improve and conduct field trials on organic, non-gmo, open pollinated seed, and protect seed sovereignty, family farmers, sustainable agriculture and organic non-gmo seed.
Organic Seed Alliance
Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) has provided essential support to help FFSC develop, guided by their vision of seed as “both our common cultural heritage and a living natural resource fundamental to the future sustainability of food production.” OSA's work goes “beyond conservation” to encompass increasing genetic diversity by “restoring and developing seed varieties for current needs while safeguarding invaluable genetic resources for future generations.” Recognizing the direct link between seed knowledge and the availability and quality of open-pollinated varieties, OSA and FFSC are collaborating to:
- Provide skill-enhancing training opportunities to FFSC members
- Implement a stock-seed maintenance and improvement program to keep open-pollinated varieties in tip-top condition
- Incorporate rigorous quality control protocols for selection work and seed production
- Support farmer-breeders in on-farm development of new varieties for organic farming systems
Variety Trial Cooperators
In addition to the trials performed by FFSC members, we currently have two important partners located in Maine and Colorado, who conduct variety trials for the co-op. These cooperators are looking at numerous varieties across several crop groups to determine how FFSC varieties compare with leading commercial varieties, as well as other novel genetic material. These trials help us decide which varieties we will focus on over the next few years. Growing the same variety in multiple sites provides information about regional adaptability.
- Scott Vlaun, Organic Farmer/Gardener, Southern Maine - evaluated nearly 100 varieties across 10 crop groups in a non-replicated trial. Several of the varieties were planted at two different times during the season. In 2011, Maine experienced an extremely wet year which resulted in a severe amount of disease. This situation was ideal for testing each variety's ability to survive under these stressful conditions.
- Frank Stonaker, Specialty Crops Faculty Member, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado - evaluated about 90 varieties across 9 crop groups in a trial with 3 replications. In 2011, Eastern Colorado was hotter and drier than usual, and provides a stark contrast with the conditions in Maine. Most of the same crop varieties were grown in both locations.
Quality Assurance Trial Cooperator
After the FFSC growers produce seed of a variety, it needs to be grown out in the field in a quality assurance (QA) trial so we can observe the seed's vigor and its trueness to type. The variety must exhibit good growth and vigor, and produce few (~1% or less) or no "off-type" plants before it is deemed ready for sale by the co-op.
- Bill Reynolds, Organic Farmer, Northern California & Mexico - will be evaluating many of the newly produced FFSC varieties in Mexico during the 2011/12 winter season. Bill will then be able to provide QA results for many of the new varieties so that they will be available for sale before next spring.