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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Location: Plant Genetic Resources Research

2011 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
Presentations, hands-on demonstrations and workshops were conducted at the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, ME on September 23 – 25, 2011 and represents the major event for the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC) in FY2011. Three demonstrations were held each day for three days by PGRU staff. NOVIC is a new Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement (RSA) with Oregon State University where PGRU has the lead role in the project in 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. This workshop and the workshops and presentations held in January, August and September 2011 (NOFA –NY’s Annual Winter Conference in January 2011, Cornell’s Freeville Organic Farm, Freeville, NY on August 4, 2011, Common Ground Country Fair, Unity, ME on September 23 – 25 and The Mother Earth News Fair held the same weekend in September, 2011) 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 seed using the equipment provided in 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). The OSP website:; continues to be a major source of information for organic farmers and will serve as an umbrella for an updated OSP website highlighting the NOVIC activities in participatory plant breeding, vegetable variety trialing results and outreach and extension with small-scale seed production training. The original OSP website has had 7,879 hits since its creation in 2005 and has been viewed by stakeholders in over 70 countries. The new updated OSP website ( has had over 2,310 hits since its inception on March 16, 2010 and has been viewed by visitors in 38 countries in 20 languages. This site contains all the details of the PSI and original OSP website but incorporates current and upcoming NOVIC activities, information on our nationwide cooperators, updated news and streaming video detailing on-farm vegetable breeding and seed production. NOVIC and PGRU collaborators will be developing several outreach activities including working with eOrganic ( to create training modules for each crop of focus (broccoli, snap pea, sweet corn, winter squash, and carrot) for the NOVIC project. PGRU’s focus will be providing information on winter squash pollination techniques, methods for preventing undesired outcrossing, and how to best harvest and store seed in winter squash.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 10/20/2017
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