In the past, it was a challenge for many organic farmers to source organic seed. Fortunately, there are now a number of resources available to make it easier for farmers to find organic seed or to produce it themselves. These resources include the new Organic Seed Finder website, Organic Seed Alliance’s seed production publications, and the eOrganic Seed Resource Guide.
Organic Seed Finder, hosted and managed by the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA), was launched in October 2012 and serves as a free resource for farmers, certifiers, and other stakeholders looking to access reliable organic seed availability information. The database, found at www.organicseedfinder.org, provides a central place for seed companies of all sizes to list their organic varieties. There are currently 15 participating seed vendors representing more than 2,700 organic variety listings.
The database also provides a timestamp for searches so that certified organic operations can use their findings as part of their Organic System Plan and audit process. The database also includes a link titled, “Can’t find what you need?” to allow users to report which varieties they are having trouble finding in a certified organic form. This data is then shared with participating seed vendors and the organic plant breeding community.
For those wanting more information on organic seed availability, OSA will be hosting a webinar through eOrganic on June 6, 2014, from 8-9 a.m. PDT. The webinar will cover the organic seed regulatory requirement, including the National Organic Program (NOP) 2013 guidance that aimed to clarify this requirement. Perspectives on enforcement and sourcing challenges will be shared, as well as recommendations for improving organic seed sourcing. This project is supported by a contract from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.
For organic farmers interested in producing seed, either for their own on-farm use or for sale, OSA and its partners have created many free resources. Among these resources are seven seed production manuals from OSA, including a basic seed saving guide and guides covering organic seed production specifics for beets, carrots, spinach, beans, lettuce, and radishes. All these guides can be downloaded for free. In addition, farmers can browse the eOrganic Seed Resource Guide, which covers all aspects of organic seed production from crop-specific guidelines to weed and disease management, seed contracting information, and intellectual property considerations.