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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Cooperative (Novic)

Location: Plant Genetic Resources

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
To provide organic farmers in the Northern United States with improved vegetable varieties that are developed and tested on organic farms. Organic farmers and small-scale seed companies that are trained in the production of high quality organic seed of vegetable crops. A set of training modules for vegetable crops for participatory breeding and seed production of organic vegetables.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Germplasm of heirloom vegetables and modern varieties will be used in a participatory plant breeding approach to develop improved organic vegetable varieties that are developed and trialed on organic farms at three regional northern hubs in Oregon, Wisconsin, and New York. Training modules on participatory breeding and small scale organic seed production of vegetables will be developed. Information and varieties developed will be disseminated through trialing on organic farmers, at field days and training workshops, through brochures and on the internet through eOrganic and eXtension. PGRU will also provide the public face of the project through demonstrations and outreach at the Common Ground Fair in Unity, ME, mid-September each year of the project.


3.Progress Report:

NOVIC is a Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement (RSA) with Oregon State University wherein PGRU has held the lead role in the project, i.e., the extension of small-scale seed production of heirloom vegetable germplasm and new public open-pollinated varieties bred by organic farmers and small-scale seed producers. Presentations, hands-on demonstrations and workshops were conducted at the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, ME on September 21-23, 2013. Three formal demonstrations will be made by PGRU staff for each day of the three days of the Common Ground Fair. In addition to these workshops, NOVIC was represented by PGRU at NOFA –NY’s Annual Winter Conference, January 25-27, 2013, Saratoga Springs. We had approximately 300 people stop by to ask about the program during the conference. During NOFA – VT’s Winter Conference, Burlington, VT, February 16-17, 2013 there were nearly 250 people who stopped by the PGRU NOVIC booth in order to acquire information about NOVIC. These outreach presentations represent the major events for the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC) in FY2013. All of these workshops and conferences serve small-scale farmers and organic grower populations. They provide essential training in incorporating small-scale seed production into their existing farm systems. These workshops also provide the means to display the mobile seed processing unit. This unit consists of various mechanical and manual seed processing and threshing devices used in wet and dry seed processing. During workshops and demonstrations, organic farmers and small-scale seed producers were trained and given the opportunity to clean their own seed using the equipment provided for by the mobile seed processing unit. NOVIC represents a continuing phase of two previous RSAs’ with Cornell University’s Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics; The Public Seed Initiative (PSI) and the Organic Seed Partnership (OSP). In late 2012, PGRU and Cornell University announced the creation of a new website that focuses on the plant breeding and seed saving needs of our local northeastern region. The site currently hosts nine videos, illustrating the proper methods of breeding, hand-pollination, pollination cage construction, etc., three of which we have produced in-house. In addition, we have also been granted permission to host other videos that pertain to our mission. These include “Clothes Dryer Grain Thresher”, “DIY Seed Aspirator”, “Winnowing Amaranth”, “Rice Thresher”, and “Hand Threshing Sorghum”. There are also publications available on the site, which include, “Organic Broccoli Seed Production”, “Organic Carrot Seed Production”, “Organic Pea Seed Production”, “Organic Pea Seed Production (expanded)”, “Organic Squash Seed Production”, and “Organic Sweet Corn Seed Production”. Also included are relevant public domain publications or articles that we have been given permission to host and distribute. These include: “Homemade Column Winnower”(Aust. J. Exp. Agric.. 1985. 25. 878-80), “DIY Small Electric Winnower” (public domain), “DIY Hand-Operated Winnower” (public domain), “Farm-Scale Winnower” (public domain), “Conversion of a Leaf Shredder/Wood Chipper into a Grain Thresher” (public domain), “Threshing by Hand-Around and Around and Back to the Beginning” (Courtesty of www.geopathfinder.com), “Winnowing – Cleaning Your Homegrown Grain for Eating” (Courtesty of www.geopathfinder.com), “Bucket Thresher” (Courtesy of http://www.prairieheritagefarm.com), “DIY Seed Cleaning Aspirator” (Courtesy of http://www.realseeds.co.uk/seedcleaner.html), “Urban Thresher Made from a Household Dryer” (Courtesy of http://www.columbiavalleypioneer.com/?p=6627), “Rice Thresher Description” (Courtesty of http://chefcooke.com/ricethresher.html), "Weymouth Canary Winnower" (Courtesy of the Weymouth Canary Breeders Club, http://www.weymouthcanarybc.org.uk/).


Last Modified: 8/29/2014
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