Seed to Kitchen Collaborative


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The Seed to Kitchen Collaborative connects plant breeders focused on organic systems to Wisconsin farmers and chefs, to create delicious, well-adapted vegetable varieties for local organic production. This collaboration presents a unique opportunity to focus on vegetable variety characteristics important to local food systems, such as flavor, fresh-market quality and productivity on smaller-scale diversified farms.

Healy, G.K., Selman, L., Stone, A. and Dawson, J.C. 2018. Simple methods for market growers to assess culinary quality with consumers. eOrganic https://articles.extension.org/pages/74754/

Hodge, T.L., Healy, G.K., Emerson, B.J., and Dawson, J.C. 2018. Comparing varieties under organic high tunnel and open field management in the North Central Region. eOrganic https://articles.extension.org/pages/74785/

Comparing Apples to Apples: Single-Varietal Hard Apple Cider Testing. Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems: http://www.cias.wisc.edu/comparing-apples-to-apples/

On Farm Variety Trials

Download the Growers Guide to Conducting On-Farm Variety Trials

Toolkit for Risk Management of Organic and Specialty Crop Producers

Seed is a farmer’s first defense in the field, so identifying the best varieties through on-farm trials is an important risk management tool, especially for organic producers who don’t use chemical controls for production challenges, such as disease and pest pressures. Growers rely on varieties that perform well in their local climate and environmental conditions, include important production characteristics (e.g. disease resistance), and meet market demands. This toolkit of resources to  help you plan and conduct on-farm variety trials includes webinars, a guide to conducting on-farm variety trials and an online trial planning and analysis tool.

This project is a partnership between the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA), Organic Seed Alliance (OSA), University Wisconsin-Madison, Oregon State University, eOrganic and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services (MOSES). It is funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency award # RM17RMEPP522C027.

National priorities for organic vegetable variety trials

We conducted a survey and planning workshop withe the Organic Seed Alliance and Oregon State University on national priorities for organic vegetable variety trials.  Find the report from the survey and workshop here: Organic Variety Trials and Seeds Summit Proceedings



A collaboration with Dr. Nicolas Enjalbert and the SeedLinked programming team.

SeedLinked is a online platform that seeks to connect farmers and gardeners with information on varieties from other growers. SeedLinked will be available to anyone, from plant breeders to commercial growers to home gardeners, in an effort to increase the amount and quality of information available on variety performance in different regions. It is particularly useful to facilitate participatory trials with real-time information shared among users. UW Madison and SeedLinked are collaborating to develop and beta test the platform through a joint USDA Small Business Innovation Grant.

Reduced-till Organic Vegetable Production


Collaboration with Claire Strader, FairShare CSA Coalition and Dane County Extension

While there has been some success with organic no-till row crops, organic no-till vegetables remain a conundrum. Inadequate weed control, narrow cover crop termination windows, and planting delays related to termination are all challenges. These three bulletins are the result of on-farm research funded by North Central SARE partnership grants to look at various strategies to reducing tillage in organic vegetable systems.

Living Clover Aisles Farmer Bulletin (pdf)

Sorghum Sudangrass Residue as No Till Mulch (pdf)

Mulch with No Till Organic Tomatoes (pdf)

Sorghum Sudangrass for Organic No-Till (video)

No-Till Tomato Mulch (video)

Organic Farm Manager Registered Apprenticeship


Collaboration with Claire Strader, FairShare CSA coalition and Dane County Extension, Val Dantoin, Wisconsin Technical College System and WI Department of Workforce Development, Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards.

The Organic Vegetable Farm Manager Apprenticeship provides a structure that meets the needs of both experienced and aspiring farmers. This unique competency-based program provides comprehensive, hands-on training under approved Farmer Educators and paid employment for apprentices interested in taking on farm management positions.

Apprentices work side by side with experienced farmers in the field season and take structured courses through the WI Tech College System in the off-season. A comprehensive job book lays out on-the-job competencies that must be learned in the field.  Three apprentice courses cover philosophy and concepts that are better learned in the classroom.  It is estimated that the program will take two growing seasons. Apprentices may join a farm at any time, though they typically start in early spring.  Farmer educators train apprentices in all aspects of organic vegetable production and provide insight and instruction on operating a farm business.

Livingston, L.J, Strader, C. and Dawson, J.C. 2018. Creation of an Organic Vegetable Farm Manager Apprenticeship Program in Wisconsin. eOrganic https://articles.extension.org/pages/74752/

Urban Agriculture Production Resources


This is a curated and annotated collection of production resources for urban and peri-urban growers. Crop production is an integral part of the overall food system. It includes planting and soil management, weed control, management of pests and diseases, food safety, season extension, and post-harvest management techniques. However, a grower’s success is not only dependent on the growing of crops, but also the understanding of their market. This requires the development of a business/marketing plan as well as the evaluation and feasibility of the proposed business and marketability of the product. The  publications in this online resource are meant as guides for small to medium-scale, fresh-market growers in urban/peri-urban areas emphasizing organic and/or sustainable production practices.

Resources on food systems and policy-level questions are available through the Community Food Systems Toolkit, https://fyi.uwex.edu/foodsystemstoolkit/.  The toolkit is a curated collection of action-oriented resources to help practitioners and community groups plan, implement and evaluate a variety of community food system initiatives.

The manual was created as part of the Community and Regional Food Systems project, http://www.community-food.org/, funded by USDA-AFRI. It is maintained by the Urban and Regional Food Systems group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.