Sustainable Plant Breeding :A Participatory Methodology for CSA’s and Fresh Market Vegetable Producers in South Central WI
Individual meetings with farmers and plant breeders, as well as a roundtable identified a need for locally adapted seeds and seeds adapted for small-scale fresh market production. Projects between individual farmers and researchers resulted but the coordinated efforts of a plant breeder-farmer team were not established. Researchers work with farmers on the side not as part of their extension or research responsibilities. Initial research signaled the need to identify institutional constraints or researchers to establish why they are not able to work with farmers through their university positions.
Long-term Objective: Increased sustainability of plant breeding and seed distribution. Short term outcomes: Through dialogue, education and goal setting farmers, university researchers, an NGO, and small seed companies/producers. Enhance understanding of plant breeding/seed system and of potential for sustainability. Through same means a multi-institution support network is created. All stakeholders learn about alternative plant breeding systems and their potential role in creating/sustaining them.
Roundtable discussion and individual interviews conducted January 2005. Follow up meeting with ½ of the researchers and farmers conduct May 2005. Through both venues evaluated knowledge on participatory research, created mutual goals and objectives for plant breeding project, and educated farmers and researchers on models of participatory research. Researchers and farmers learned about role in seed production and plant breeding.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Difficulties in institutionalizing participatory research at the university level have led to the important study of the institutional barriers to creating meaningful and beneficial participatory research between farmers and researchers. Individual relationships between farmers and researchers have allowed for the transfer of genetic material in corn, peppers, tomatoes and carrots. However a model system for creating participatory research has not resulted as planned. At least eight plant breeders received additional information on creating participatory research and 12 farmers created tied and contacts at the university.
As the research is expanded to look at institutional barriers to participatory research, this activity will benefit farmers and researchers who are attempting to create long-lasting relationships between land grant universities and sustainable farming communities. It is also providing for novel vegetable varieties to reach farmers markets and CSAs – allowing the diversification and/or adaptation of plant varieties to the economic and ecological needs of several farmers.