Organic Seed Key to Healthy Productive Crops


An article in Modern Farmer discussing the importance of organic seed to the future of agriculture, featured several organic researchers and farmers whose work provided the ingredients for a dinner in St. Helena, California benefitting Seed Matters. 

Seed Matters, an initiative of the Clif Bar Family Foundation, is working to improve the viability and availability of organic seed to ensure healthy, nutritious and productive crops. Their goal is to take the whole farm-to-table movement one layer deeper—from seed-to-farm-to-table. Matthew Dillon, who oversees the Seed Matters initiative, emphasized the importance of organic methods, “Seeds created in a conventional, chemically dependent environment yield far less resilient plants.”

OFRF was happy to see several researchers that received funding from OFRF and Clif Bar Family Foundation's Seed Matters iniative at the dinner, including Stephen Jones, Bill Tracy and Jim Myers. Stephen Jones, a professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Washington State University and Director of the WSU Bread Lab, received OFRF research grants between 2001 and 2003 in support of his development of wheat varieties for organic farmers. Today, Jones continues to breed wheat for sustainable, perennial and organic systems.

Bill Tracy at the University of Wisconsin led the research that produced “Who Gets Kissed” an open-pollinated sweet corn variety with yellow and white kernels that yields well and is disease resistant. Funding provided by OFRF played a crucial role in initiating this participatory breeding project to improve sweet corn for organic farmers. As a result of this seed money, further funding was secured from USDA-ARS to continue the project.

Jim Myers of Oregon State University worked with organic farmer Jonathan Spero on a sweet corn breeding project supported by a four-year research grant from OFRF. Two new varieties of open-pollinated, sweet corn “Top Hat” and “Tuxana” will be available in limited quantities for the 2016 planting season.

Clif Bar underwrites university endowments, fellowships, and grants supporting public research that produces open-source varieties any breeder can access.

To learn more and enjoy the mouthwatering images from the Seed Matters dinner, read Modern Farmer’s full article.

Photo of Matthew Dillon courtesy of Modern Farmer.