Private Sector Solutions to Increasing Organic Seed Usage

Session III: 3:30pm - 5:00pm

The availability of organic seed and planting stock has dramatically increased, yet further improvement is needed. From improving regulatory frameworks to strengthen and clarify organic seed requirements to increased investments in research, education, and resources, this interactive workshop explores private sector solutions to expanding organic seed usage. Panelists will focus on how to develop the relationship and commitment between organic food processors, growers, and seed providers.

Speakers: Heron Breen, Fedco Seeds; Logan Peterman, Organic Valley; Gwendolyn Wyard, Organic Trade Association; Kelly Abbott

Speaker Bios

Kelly Abbott is the Technical Supervisor for the Farm and Livestock program at Oregon Tilth. She has worked in the organic certification industry for 19 years and currently serves on the Board for the Accredited Certifiers Association. She is committed to the transparency of certification and the integrity of the organic seal. She believes in a lifelong commitment to healthier people and a healthier planet through sustainable farming practices. 

Heron Breen born, raised, and residing in the small central Maine town of Saint Albans, Heron’s plant “roots” derive from childhood chores in his family’s large back-to-the-lander gardens and high school summers spent working (or pretending to) on a local organic vegetable farm. An ongoing 19 year career at Fedco Seeds has engaged him in diverse elements of the retail seed business including various daily operations, managing trial progams, and catalog writing. His day job has run parallel to establishing a personal farm operation which focuses on seed production and plant breeding. Sharing the experiential skill sets and relevant history of seed work in the Northeast is Heron’s passion.

Logan Peterman From his roots growing up on an apple orchard in central Wisconsin, to his years working in the organic sector, Logan Peterman has sought to merge a background in Ecology, Statistics, and Research design to enhance and validate farmer intuition and organic on-farm management. At Organic Valley, Peterman applies his expertise by leveraging fresh insights to inform strategy and operational tactics for leaders at the farmer-owned cooperative.  His primary goal, is to validate member intuition regarding organic benefits, nutrition, and resilience, using the research expertise of peer-reviewed academics and private research institutions.   Improving nutrition, reducing externalities, and ensuring integrity of organic foods into the future.

Gwendolyn Wyard (Moderator) has been actively working in the organic industry for over 20 years. She serves as the Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Affairs for the Organic Trade Association (OTA) where she works on the development of policy strategy through regulatory engagement in the interest of OTA’s mission and its members. Prior to OTA Gwendolyn worked for Oregon Tilth where she served as the Technical Specialist specializing in policy analysis and technical review of materials for use in organic products. She holds a degree in Food Science with a Fermentation Science Option and a minor in Chemistry. Gwendolyn completed her certificate as an independent farm and processing inspector through the International Organic Inspector’s Association (IOIA) in 1997 and has subcontracted for multiple certifiers inspecting a diverse range of operations. She also serves on board for the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) and is an Advisory Council member for the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). In her free time, Gwendolyn loves to make and eat fermented foods, take long bike rides, paddle her kayak and grub around in the soil.