Sustainable Plant Breeding :A Participatory Methodology for CSA’s and Fresh Market Vegetable Producers in South Central WI
In 2006 this research identified institutional constraints to participatory research through expanded literature review, interviews at the University of Wisconsin and with researchers in three other states. Ongoing contact with plant breeder and farmers also monitored the relationships created by the roundtable meeting last year. Professional reward systems, long-standing industry ties specific to a researcher’s crop of focus, and perceived importance/lack of importance of small-scale vegetable production contributed to difficulties in institutionalizing participatory plant breeding beyond individual efforts.
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.
Educational guide on methodology for participatory/sustainable plant breeding in U.S. land grant university context.
Identification of institutional barriers to participatory research.
Creation of research brief on participatory research.
Follow up interviews and continuing education on participatory research with plant breeding faculty.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Further research into institutional constraints has led to the creation of a guide to participatory research as well as a research brief that will be distributed by the Center for Integrated Agricultural systems to aid farmers and researchers interested in pursuing on-farm participatory research. Four farmers continue to work with plant breeders on developing germplasm for their farms and one is growing seed for distribution to other farmers. One plant breeder is expanding the involvement of farmers in research trials on to new crops. These research activities benefit researchers and farmers interested in creating new participatory research projects by filling a gap in the literature on participatory research and identifying institutional barriers to participation. This research should aid in more successful participatory research projects by allowing researchers to better consider and understand their own positions in universities. It continues to provide 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.