Photo Gallery index > Organic Seed Alliance - Seed Conference - January 19-21, 2012

  • Kathleen and I had the good fortune to attend the Organic Seed Alliance's 6th Seed Conference in Port Townsend, Washington, from January 19-21, 2012. One amongst many characters in the crowd, seen here centred under the OSA banner, was Dan Ravischer. He is the lawyer from the Public Patent Foundation who is representing over 300,000 farmers who are challenging the validity of some corporation's Utility Patents, and also seeking protection from the likelihood of farmers being themselves sued for patent infringement should their crops be contaminated by transgenic material. Dan said, My grandfather didn't die on the beach at Normandy so that some corporation could ruin farmers' lives. Percy could have used Dan's help....
  • Over 300 people gathered to focus on seed: topics ranged from production issues to consolidation in the seed industry, the loss of biodiversity in our food crops and the policies which effect global trends. The event was exceptionally well organized, balancing keynote speakers with smaller workshops - and the fresh regional food was also a highlight.
  • Workshops that we attended were: Introduction to On-Farm Breeding, Farmer-Owned Seed Companies, Managing Disease in Seed Crops, Organic Wheat Breeding, Managing Isolation Distances in Organic Seed Production, Breeding for Nutrition, Harvesting and Seed Cleaning for Small to Mid-Scale Farms, Breeding for Positive Microbial Interactions, Untangling the Roots of Seed Concentration and, pictured here, Hybrid Vs Open-Pollinated Varieties: How Do They Fit Into An Evolutionary Seed System? with (from left to right) Nash Huber, William Tracy, John Navazio, Brian Campbell and Micaela Colley. As you might imagine, their was some spirited discussion between Kathleen and myself regarding who was going to attend which workshop...
  • The Community Seed Swap was a fun opportunity to exchange some germplasm. As Kathleen put it: Did you feel the energy in that room?
  • One of the nice touches of the conference was the musical entertainment. On Friday night the Dustbunnies brought the funk from Orca Island, while on Saturday night the Pheromones - a band of farmers and plant breeders featuring John Navazio on guitar - had everyone grooving to their retro rock. Really, where else could you dance with your favorite plant breeders?!?
  • All together it was a fantastic event. We had to brave winter storms coming and going, but it was worth it. I think we would have gone even if we had known how white our knuckles would be, or just how many rock chips we were going to get in our windshield on the way back home. We loved this conference, rating it excellent for education and inspiration, and we wholeheartedly recommend it - the next one is in 2014 (location to be announced)!
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