Intensive: Seed Production Essentials


Sebastian Aguilar, Heron Breen Fedco Seeds

Micaela Colley, Organic Seed Alliance

Edmund Frost, Common Wealth Seed Growers  

Tessa Peters, Organic Seed Alliance

Tom Stearns, High Mowing Organic Seeds

Don Tipping, Siskiyou Seeds

Jared Zystro, Organic Seed Alliance

Are you interested in learning how to grow seed on your farm? This full day intensive will give you the tools you need to get started!

The Seed Production Essentials Intensive at Organicology will include top-notch training on the basics of growing seed – from production practices, to cleaning techniques, to the economic considerations for a successful crop. Seasoned seed growers who live the ins and outs of producing seed will lead this daylong intensive. Our goal is for you to finish the intensive with the knowledge and confidence you need to grow your own seed for your farm or markets.

Speaker Bios

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.

Micaela Colley 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.

Edmund Frost has been growing certified organic vegetable seeds in Louisa, Virginia since 2008. He also does research and plant breeding work, especially focused on disease resistant cucumber, winter squash and melon varieties. Edmund manages Common Wealth Seed Growers, a small seed company dedicated to raising awareness about regional and organic seed issues, and to serving the needs of produce farmers in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions. 

Tessa Peters works as the commercialization manager for perennial grains at The Land Institute. Until recently, she was OSA’s Research and Outreach Associate for the Intermountain West region.  She received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin—Madison in 2018 and worked with Dr. Bill Tracy to breed sweet corn for organic producers in the Upper Midwest. She was also a recipient of a Clif Bar Family Foundation Seed Matters fellowship. She currently serves as the co-chair of the board of directors of the Society for Organic Seed Professionals, which supports the professional development of people involved in the organic seed industry. She lives, hikes, and backpacks in Missoula, MT, with her husband and son.

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.

 Don Tipping has been farming and offering hands on, practical workshops at Seven Seeds Farm since 1997.  He is active in the Seed Stewardship movement and educates regionally on seed saving through the Biannual Seed Academy, the Student Organic Seed Symposium, Seed Schools and numerous conferences.  He sits on the board of the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance and contributes to the Open Source Seed Initiative.  While raising a family and managing a diverse seed farm and distribution business occupy much of his time, Don is keenly aware of the eroding Agrarian landscape and believes in rekindling a thriving culture of cottage industries that inspire Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share and is wholeheartedly devoted to seeing this emergent regenerative economy and culture increase and thrive.

Jared Zystro is Organic Seed Alliance’s research and education assistant director. He has a master’s degree in plant breeding and plant genetics from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Jared has worked in the organic seed industry for over 15 years, managing seed production at two farms and conducting research and education projects with OSA. He currently manages OSA’s regional development in California, conducts participatory breeding projects and variety trials, and teaches farmers about seed production and plant breeding at workshops, conferences, and field days. Jared is also a PhD candidate in the University of Wisconsin - Madison's Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics program, where he is studying efficient methods of developing new organic sweet corn varieties. He lives in the coastal town of Arcata, CA, with his wife and son.