CT NOFA announces its partnership with the Northeast Organic Seed Conference in 2021.  This conference is geared to specialty crop growers, seed savers, and all who cherish the genius of biodiversity and challenge of stewardship.  In addition to a wide range of diverse and innovative workshops each day, we are featuring our Ecotype Project as a special track for producers interested in conservation agriculture and ecotypical seed (native plants featured in habitat restoration and other conservation efforts.)

Visit the main conference site to learn more.  Read below for a detailed description of the Ecotype Project track, speaker bios, and more.

Funding in part has been provided by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program of the Agricultural Marketing Service, US Dept of Agriculture, awarded and administered by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture

Creating an Ecotypic Seed Network in the Northeast

Tuesday January 19th 2020 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM ET A roundtable needs assessment on ecoregional seed amplification

As stewards of the land we all understand the importance of protecting, conserving & restoring our natural ecosystems. How can we, as seed producers, support the living seed banks of our shared ecological corridors with genetically local native seeds? There are many of us in the Northeast who are doing the important work of ecotype seed production- but what resources or skill sets are we missing to foster a fully functional ecoregional “seedshed?” Join us as we conduct a live needs assessment discussion with some of our regions leading pioneers & authorities to architect a way forward of amplifying Northeast ecotype seed for ecological restoration.

Pushing Boundaries

Thursday, January 21st, 2:00-3:30 PM ET This talk will showcase regional farmers, gardeners, families and researchers who are Pushing Boundaries by growing very unique vegetables, herbs and flowers for seed.

Presenters: Julia Aguilar, Sefra Alexandra, Jacqueline Pilati, Aaron Parker, Nikhil Gupta
Moderator: Nate Kleinman

There is a common assumption made about which seeds can be grown in the rather amorphous realm known as the “Northeast”. This talk will showcase regional farmers, gardeners, families and researchers who are Pushing Boundaries by growing very unique vegetables, herbs and flowers for seed. For example, there is a current impetus on amplifying seed production of truly local native “ecotype” plants to conserve the wild genetic diversity relied upon by our hardworking pollinators. Individuals will share and discuss their motivations: preservation, plant passion, family and community relevance, plant breeding, or selling a niche crop/seed. As well as the tricks, tips, quirks and deep attention each plant practitioner has learned in order to encourage others to experiment and expand the biodiversity of seed produced in the Northeast.

Ecotypes, Ecoregions & Ecological Restoration

Friday January 22nd, 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET For seed farmers interested in producing Northeast native plant materials for biodiversity & ecological restoration

Part I: Theory What are native ecotypes and how are ecoregions defined as it relates to native plant and seed production? Join us and learn what role amplifying these place-based genetic resources play in providing biologically diverse native plant materials that are in such high demand and such short supply in the Northeast. 

Polly Weigand (Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission & Long Island Native Plant Initiative)  & Hope Leeson (Rhode Island Natural History Survey)  will discuss the theory and framework behind the importance of utilizing the right plants in the right place for supporting the restoration of wildlife habitat.  

PART II: Practice How as a seed producer can I establish “Founders Plots” on my farm to amplify an ecotypic seed crop? Join Michael Butts lead of native seed production at the Greenbelt Native Plant Center  and Alexis Doshas Propagator and Facilities Coordinator at Native Plant Trust to learn what you need to know & consider when producing native plant seed. This intensive will demonstrate how to grow,  harvest & handle this specialty crop to make this much needed local resource available for ecological restoration market needs.