Press Release: Organic Farming Research Foundation Seeds New Organic Crop Varieties and Farming Practices


OFRF invests $50,640 in four new grants to improve the success of organic farmers

For Immediate Release    

Contact Info:
Denise Ryan
External Relations Director
(831) 426-6606

Santa Cruz, CA (January 10, 2012)  Organic farmers in Oregon will be growing sweeter corn, while their counterparts in North Carolina will be testing new varieties of broccoli best suited for their farms, thanks to grants awarded by the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) Board of Directors. Additional grants will fund projects designed to help organic growers increase their yields while decreasing nitrogen and impacts on surrounding waterways, and to prevent organic seed-producing crops from being contaminated by GMOs. The OFRF Board approved four grants totaling $50,640 to help grow the industry's organic knowledge.

“The benefits to OFRF grant awards are far reaching,” states OFRF Board President Deirdre Birmingham.  “After more than 20 years and $3 million investment in organic research, we continue to experience sustainability benefits for both organic and non-organic farming.”

Organic food sales have grown significantly each year since 1997 as more and more consumers make healthier food choices and turn away from the use of chemicals and synthetic fertilizers. Organic farming is literally and figuratively a growth industry. Today, an estimated 14,500 certified organic farmers raise fruits, vegetables, grains and textile crops that improve the soil and the health of consumers and the planet while supplying a $29 billion industry.

This year, with funding from OFRF, researchers from Washington State University will conduct field tests at eight organic farms in western Washington to help match the requirements of a variety of crops with the amount of natural fertilizer needed for maximum productivity. The overall goal of the project is for farmers to reduce the use of fertilizers, saving money and preventing unused nutrients from washing into nearby streams or rivers. The project will be headed by Douglas Collins from the WSU Center for Sustaining Ag and Resources, who was awarded a $14,996 grant from the OFRF.

Farmers who produce organic seeds will benefit from a $12,500 grant awarded to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Preservation. In recent years, organic growers have become increasingly concerned that pollinating bees may contaminate organic plants with pollen from non-organic crops. The project will identify native bee species that are drawn to specific crops. By improving conditions for such pollinators, researchers expect seed production to increase significantly. That would lead to lower costs to farmers purchasing the seed, lower prices for consumers and decrease in genetic contamination.

The OFRF teamed up with the Clif Bar Family Foundation to award two additional grants to researchers in Oregon creating new varieties of sweet corn and broccoli best suited for organic farmers in North Carolina. The $8,410 grant awarded to Jonathan Spero of Lupine Knoll Farm in Williams, Oregon, continues sweet corn research started last year. Jeanine Davis of the North Carolina State University, Mountain Research Station in Mills River, North Carolina, will use the $14,734 grant to develop and test new varieties of broccoli for organic production in the western part of the state.

“Investment in organic agriculture research was important in 1997.” states Maureen Wilmot, Executive Director, OFRF.  “It’s even more relevant today, as we experience 20% growth in organic agriculture.  The imperative is on us all to invest in vital research that sustains organic supply in our country,” adds Wilmot.

About the Organic Farming Research Foundation

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) has a very clear vision -- that organic farming will be the leading form of agriculture for healthy people who thrive on a healthy planet. OFRF sponsors organic farming research and education projects and works to create federal farm policy bringing more farmers and acreage into organic production. Founded in 1990, OFRF is the leading non-profit, national champion of the American organic family farmer in America. For more information, see and find us on Facebook!

Organic Farming Research Foundation
303 Potrero St. #29-203
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
telephone: 831-426-6606