Forty years ago there were dozens of public plant breeders working on developing grains, vegetables, and other agricultural crops suited to the needs of regional farmers. For example, every region in the US had a land grant university with a breeder spending time on sweet corn breeding. Today, there are only two – one in Wisconsin and one in Hawaii. The result? Fewer regionally adapted varieties being released to farmers and gardeners, and an organic community that is seriously underserved.
Seed Matters is working hard to support the next generation of organic plant breeder, researcher, entrepreneur, and seed policy leader. Our fellowships cultivate institutional change in a number of important ways including:
- supporting graduate student training in classical plant breeding
- expanding the presence of organic research at land grant universities and colleges
- breeding new varieties of seed to meet the growing demand for organic food and fiber
Our graduate fellows are also conducting research to improve the quality, sustainability, and yield of organic crops including barley, wheat, quinoa, cover crops, oats, green beans, broccoli, squash, cotton, field corn (that prevents GMO contamination), and sweet corn.
Currently, we’re funding students at Washington State University (four students), University of Wisconsin (two students), Oregon State University, North Carolina State University, Texas Tech, UC Davis, and Cornell University.