Producing Organic Vegetable Seed

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2004: $154,293.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Matthew Dillon
Organic Seed Alliance

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: beans, greens (leafy), radishes (culinary)


  • Crop Production: double cropping, intercropping, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement
  • Pest Management: biological control, cultural control, genetic resistance, physical control, mulching - vegetative
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships


    The goal of the Producing “Organic Vegetable Seed – Farmer Education Project” was to familiarize producers with the fundamental skills necessary to grow quality vegetable seed crops. This was accomplished through a series of field days, three winter short courses, conference presentations, and the publication of three crop-specific seed production manuals. In total there were twenty outreach events over the course of the three years, reaching more than four hundred producers in Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. Workshops and manuals covered planning, economics, disease issues, fertility management, cultivation, irrigation, harvest, and post-harvest cleaning and handling. OSA staff identified experienced organic seed producers and worked with them as project partners to improve their existing practices, designing metrics around quality traits that were monitored and measured over the course of the project for improvements. Each producer-cooperator served in an educational capacity as well, hosting field days with OSA staff and regional Extension to provide inexperienced seed producers with hands-on information and in-field experience. New seed producers desiring additional assistance were matched with an experienced seed producer who provided mentoring via phone, email, and field visits.

    Photos, publications, and field day materials were supplied to the Western SARE office and are available to others on request.

    Project objectives:

    • Establish a system of educating farmers in organic seed production by working with experienced producers, university specialists (University of Idaho, Washington State and Oregon State) and seed industry professionals (OSA).

      Train new seed farmers and increase the skills, attitudes and awareness of existing farmers in seed production in order to improve the quality and availability of organic vegetable seed.

      Create financial opportunities for farmers in a burgeoning and sustainable market.
      Strengthen a weak link in organic systems by bridging an information gap in practices of organic seed production.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.