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At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

The Importance of Organic Seed

Healthy Farms, Community and Future of Agriculture

by: Allison Pratt-Szeliga

Something has been on my mind ever since the last MOSES conference: organic seed and organic seed producers. I went to many classes over that weekend in February, and I decided to go to several of the classes that were focused on seed. Seed, is what I do after all. I sort, analyze, and organize organic seed. I choose the best seed to replant for each planting. I spend time (sometimes lots of time) looking at each and every seed, each and every future plant, which in turn will produce more seed.  Yet even I never thought about the importance of organic seed and organic seed producers, although I think daily about the importance of organic fruits and vegetables in my diet and how much better they are for our bodies and our earth.

Conventional seed growers feed their crop of seeds; with fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals. They try to produce a perfect seed-growing environment, one that has the right amount of water and without too many stresses on the plants. To produce seed you need to grow through the entire life cycle of the plant until once again seeds are formed. This means that the plants are in the ground longer than a typical vegetable crop, and there is more time to apply chemicals. Also, for seed there are different regulations about when you can apply pesticides before harvest and many are applied up to the day before harvest.  If you rely on conventional seed to plant your organic garden, that seed came from a place where many synthetic pesticides are being put into the earth.

Organic seed growers are growing and selecting seeds that perform well in the stresses of organic gardens and farms. These seeds have been bred to grow in organic conditions that do not rely on pesticides as their method of weed and insect control. They are more likely to have the strength to perform despite weeds and pests.  In organic farming systems, plants rely on healthy soil to get their nutrients, so they need vigorous roots to seek out and absorb these nutrients. Organic growers use different and milder methods for weed and pest control, so these plants must be able to tap into their inner strength and defend themselves. Organic seed has been selected over and over again to obtain the best seeds for organic growing conditions.

When you are planning your garden or farm, please consider organic seed; it is important for healthy farms, communities and the future of agriculture. And best of all when you choose to use organic seed, you end up supporting the research of all the organic seed growers, producers, breeders and researchers out there keeping up the good fight!