Seed Development & Improvement

Our Commitment to Continuous Improvement

The open-pollinated, public domain, traditional and heirloom seed varieties that provide the foundational genetic material that feeds us, have suffered from a lack of investment in maintenance and improvement. Hybrids have been favored by the seed industry, largely because it is much harder for a competitor seed company to reproduce a hybrid than an open-pollinated variety. Also, nearly all new plant varieties have been bred under chemically-based farming systems. FFSC farmers have dedicated themselves to remedying this situation by producing open-pollinated seed within organic farming systems and rigorously selecting seed from the best performing plants. This intense selection process can "move" that variety to even higher performance levels. Better performance means greater productivity and/or more reliable yields.

Varietal Trait Selection and Performance

Organic seed systems must be built upon varieties that have proven performance in organic farming systems. They require vigorous root systems to seek out nutrients imbedded in the complexity of the soil. Plant vigor and canopy play an important role in the plant's ability to out-compete and shade out weeds. Plants must rely more heavily on their own defense systems to deal with disease and pest pressures. Selection criteria for organic plant breeding efforts must also include consumer preferences, such as flavor, color, nutrition, texture and appearance.

Increasing Research and Resilience

Increased demand for organic seed will result in more research and development funds for organic plant breeding and varietal improvement. A sustained committment to genetic improvement of our seed varieties will lead to greater biodiversity and adaptation to ecological farming systems across multiple bio-regions, and provide greater resilience and food security in the face of climate change.

We're working closely with the Organic Seed Alliance to coordinate variety development and improvement efforts with high quality seed production to achieve our mutual goal of strengthening seed sovereignty and seed security.

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