IV. Caribbean Organic Seed Systems- Accessing organic seed in the Caribbean is extremely challenging. Seed is expensive to import, and it can be complicated to get it through customs. The government germplasm facilities are underfunded and often struggling to provide consistent services . Tony is working to develop seed networks in the region by:
III. Organizing the Southeastern Organic Seed Community- Part of Tony's job under the cucurbit project is to document and develop the network of stakeholders in the southeastern organic seed community. They have been meeting informally for years, but now there are resources for establishing a true network with the capacity to develop long and short term projects. Recently, an Organic Research Extension Initiative planning grant was awarded to OSA, which will fund the development of a full plan and proposal for a multi-year project.
II. Serving on the OSA Board of Directors - Tony was recruited to be on the board by Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange in 2010 and has had the honor to serve since then. Ira and he have worked with fellow board members and staff to create a comprehensive strategic plan that includes the development of regional seed systems. The organization has great staff and resources available for organic seed production and policy. Read more about them here
I. Eastern Sustainable Organic Cucurbit Project - Tony has been working with OSA and Dr. Michael Mazourek at Cornell University, Dr. Jeanine Davis at NC State University, and Auburn University to conduct organic melon, cucumber, and squash variety trials on certified organic farms in NC and AL. They are attempting to identify varieties that have Downy Mildew Resistance and good yield and taste qualities, which will lead to resistant varieties bred for southeastern organic conditions. The trials are also happening at the Mountain Crops Research Station in Waynesville, NC and a research site in Tuskegee, AL. Find out more about the project.
Developing regionally appropriate organic seed systems is vital to the establishment of a southeastern organic food system. Most people do not realize that the majority of the available seed is not developed for organic or southeastern conditions, which puts our farmers and gardeners at a disadvantage. Tony has been working on this issue since 2004 but has ramped up the efforts since 2010 when he was selected to be on the Board of Directors for the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA). The organization has a goal to develop regional seed systems, and the southeast is quickly developing into a high priority region.
Tony's current organic seed projects include: