NOFA-NY Field Notes


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NE Organic Seed Conference Preview

Petra Page-Mann from Fruition Seeds in Naples, NY has written this guest blog on the Northeast Organic Seed Conference. Enjoy!

We are thrilled to announce the first annual Northeast Organic Seed Conference, Friday-Sunday, January 20-22, 2017 at the Hilton City Center, Saratoga Springs, in tandem with the NOFA-NY Winter Conference! The theme “Owning Our Seed” expresses our passion to become better seed stewards in the field and in our policies. Our hope also is to strengthen the rich network of seed savers, breeders, growers, and distributors here in the Northeast U.S. and Canada. It’s a great fit with NOFA-NY’s conference theme of “Long Live the Farmer: Diversity & Biodiversity.”  We own our seed as we own our future; join us in celebrating and cultivating this “ownership” this January!

Much information and inspiration will be shared in the 20+ sessions exploring subjects from Hand Pollination: Variety Improvement and Development to Northeast Native American Seeds: Respectful Stewardship, and from Biennials in the Northeast to Owning Our Seed: Perspectives on Intellectual Property. Dozens of presenters include Northeast legends (CR Lawn, Rowen White, John Navazio, Michael Mazourek, Brent Loy, Tom Stearns) plus up-and-coming faces (Ken Greene, Dan Brisbois, Adrienne Shelton, Lisa Bloodnick,) of organic seed in the Northeast.  

multi color sized seeds

We’re planning some unique and unforgettable events. Friday night, a nationally renowned special guest—stay tuned!—is joined by Michael Mazourek (organic plant breeder, Cornell University), sharing their passion for seeds, plant breeding, collaboration and food inspired by the process.  Saturday’s dinner includes a Three-Sisters showcase & tasting, celebrating the significance (and deliciousness) of traditional Native American corn, beans and squash.  Saturday evening’s Seed Swap will be an extraordinary expression of the diversity, abundance and generosity at the heart of Owning Our Seed. 

There will also be time for learning and connecting.  Although our focus is on the Northeast, we welcome anyone interested in seed to join us.  We are especially excited to reach beyond our borders and learn with our fellow seed-lovers in eastern Canada!  Cross-pollination is important for plants to adapt; it’s also important for human communities to grow increasingly resilient.

CR Lawn (Founder of Fedco) will deliver NOFA-NY’s keynote speech, addressing attendees of both conferences simultaneously. There is tremendous overlap and inter-connectedness in these two conferences. Excluding only very recent history, seed and crop improvement has always been the realm of the gardener and farmer. Indigenous and peasant farmers were the first seed “owners.” As seed has moved from commons to commodity, “farmer” and “seed saver” are no longer synonymous. Re-integrating and re-imagining these relationships is at the heart of this conference. CR’s address will speak directly to creating an ethical, sustainable seed system in the Northeast, sharing strategies for overcoming obstacles along the way.  

Registration for the seed conference is included in the NOFA-NY Winter Conference registration. Brochures will be in mailboxes by the end of October, along with an online version. Registration opens soon after.  For more details, go to See you there!

In Gratitude to Farmers
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