Closing the gap in plant breeding: bringing retailers, distributors, and processors into seed conversations.

Session II: 1:30pm - 3:00pm

A growing movement of plant breeders, farmers, and chefs are building a community approach to breeding in and for organic systems, but the middle of the supply chain is still often absent from the conversation. Organic produce retailers, processors, distributors and others in the trade are directly affected by plant breeding decisions, and they are also the first line of communication with organic eaters. This workshop will share stories and engage participants in discussions about how to bridge the gap between plant breeders and eaters to include those who handle, move and sell organic products.

Speakers: Mike Boyle, Organically Grown Company; Micaela Colley, Organic Seed Alliance; Jeff Fairchild, New Seasons Market; Barry Haynes, Ashland Food Co-Op; Brendon O’Shea, Organically Grown Company; Lane Selman, Oregon State University; Tom Stearns, High Mowing Organic Seeds

Speaker Bios

Micaela Colley (Moderator) is the Program Director of Organic Seed Alliance (OSA). She is the author of several publications on organic seed and leads OSA’s research and education programs focused on organic seed production and farmer-participatory breeding for organic cropping systems. Micaela is also pursuing a PhD with Dr. Edith Lammerts van Bueren, Wageningen University, focused on participatory plant breeding for organic systems.

Barry Haynes has been with the Ashland Food Cooperative in Ashland, Oregon for over 23 years. During the majority of that time, Barry managed all aspects of their vibrant Produce Department. Over the past seven months, Barry has been serving the Co-op in his new role as Store Manager. In addition to overseeing the organic certification of the entire store since 2007, he also serves on several teams and committees including the Administrative Leadership Team, Operational Leadership Team, Sustainability Committee, and the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. In 2015, Barry received the Oregon Organic Coalition’s individual Award for Excellence in the area of Organic Advocacy.


Lane Selman
grew up on a citrus farm her Sicilian great-grandparents planted in 1919 on Florida's space coast.  She has a Bachelors in Agronomy and a Masters in Entomology, both from University of Florida.  In 2000, she moved to Oregon and since 2005 has been an agricultural researcher at Oregon State University working with diversified, organic farmers on collaborative research projects. In 2012, Lane created the Culinary Breeding Network to build communities of plant breeders, seed growers, farmers, produce buyers, chefs and other stakeholders to improve quality in vegetables and grains. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Tom Stearns began gardening at an early age at his family home in Connecticut. Prior to completing a degree in Sustainable Agriculture from Prescott College in Arizona, he began saving seeds. A hobby was born in 1996 in Vermont when Tom began sharing these seeds with others through a small flyer. High Mowing Organic Seeds has since expanded into one of the leading organic seed companies in the U.S., supplying home gardeners, commercial growers and retailers. Tom’s vision has always been to create a company that would help support the re-building of healthy food systems, first in Vermont, followed by the rest of the U.S. He has also taught numerous workshops since 1996 on many topics such as agricultural education, economics, community supported agriculture, genetic engineering, plant breeding, local food systems, sustainable business investing and more. His informal, personal style, ability to explain complex issues and infectious enthusiasm makes him a popular and inspiring speaker. In addition, he has served on the board of several agricultural organizations including NOFA-VT, The Center for an Agricultural Economy, and Sterling College. He lives on 50 acres in Vermont with his wife Heather and their two girls, Ruby and Cora.