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Cultivating Organic Seed Stewardship

A vibrant and enduring agriculture starts with the seed. This all-day interactive session will provide a deeper understanding of the history, culture, biology, and economics of seed to help attendees take positive actions towards ensuring a sustainable seed future.
Seed sovereignty is one of the most profoundly important issues of our time. The protection of public domain genetic resources becomes paramount as a counterbalance to the consolidation and privatization that is currently the dominant paradigm of the seed industry, resulting in loss of essential seed and genetic diversity. Only by working together can we create alternatives to consolidation; decentralized regional seed stewards will lead the way!
 ‘Cultivating Organic Seed Stewardship’ is designed to inform and empower all seed advocates, from farmers to plant breeders, to educators and gardeners. The day will start off with a history of seed and the organic movement, followed by some preliminary information from the Organic Seed Alliance survey of seed use among organic farmers, with a discussion of results that will eventually lead to the second 'State of the Seed' report. Then seed production and processing techniques will be addressed, along with how they integrate with the whole farming operation to underscore the complexity of a robust seed system. We will discuss novel business approaches and organizational structures such as seed cooperatives including the Farmers’ Association Seed Growers Co-op. Consumer/producer alliances to enhance and sustain an active seed culture will also be explored. Finally, we will assess the feasibility of on-farm, participatory plant breeding for bio-diversity and climate change to reclaim and secure our food system.
Led by Steve Peters, Seed Revolution Now/Organic Seed Alliance, San Mateo, CA; Zea Sonnabend, Fruitilicious Farm, Watsonville, CA; Jared Zystro, Organic Seed Alliance, Arcata, CA; others TBA.
This pre-conference is approved for 7 Crop Management CEUs for Certified Crop Advisors.
Registration: $65 for the day including lunch, or $50 without lunch..
Location: Asilomar Conference Grounds. Check in to register at Surf & Sand.
Note that if you register online for Tuesday night lodging, lunch is already included.
Sponsored by Seed Matters and the EcoFarm Farmers’ Association 


9:00 - 10:15   Welcome and Introduction

  • Steve Peters, Seed Revolution Now, & Matthew Dillon, Clif Bar
  • State of the Seed Report Seed Survey Data
  • Jared Zystro, Organic Seed Alliance
  • Group Discussion on State of the Seed

10:15-10:30 Break

10:30 - 12:15   Seed Saving/Production

  • Techniques – tips for growing/harvesting/cleaning seed (Rowen White, Sierra Seed Cooperative)
  • Economics of a Seed Production Enterprise (Steve Peters)
  • Integration of seed growing with a farming operation - grower panel
  • Aaron Dinwoodie, Tunitas Creek Ranch, Half Mood Bay, CA
  • Don Tipping, Seven Seeds Farm, Williams, OR
  • Tim Van Wagner, First Rain Farm, Nevada City, CA
  • Questions and Answers

12:15 - 1:15  Lunch

1:30 - 3:30  Creating a Seed Culture

  • Farmer-owned seed cooperatives (Steve, Rowen and Don)
  • Seed networks (Jared)
  • Discussion of seed networks and cooperation

3:30-3:45 Break

3:45 - 4:45  Seed Breeding & Genetic Improvement

(all with Steve & Jared)

  • Selecting traits
  • Participatory breeding
  • Public domain breeding

4:45  Wrap up


Sponsored By: 
Johnny's Selected Seeds/Santa Cruz Seed LLC, Seed Matters and the EcoFarm Farmers' Association

Date and Location


Same Time

Jan 21 2015
Fred Farr
Jan 21 2015
West side of Social Hall
Jan 21 2015
Merrill Hall (overflow in Chapel)
Jan 21 2015



Thank you to our EcoFarm 2023 sponsors!